Belfast Telegraph

Robert Garrett steers clear of red mist ahead of Irish Cup final

By Graham Luney

The atmosphere will be electric, the anticipation intense and the players will be pumped up knowing what is at stake. At The Oval on Saturday afternoon, it's win or bust for Glentoran and Portadown. The jackpot or nothing.

The winners leave with Irish Cup glory and Europa League qualification, guaranteeing a cheque of at least £145,000.

The losers leave with nothing but the anguish of knowing they were so close, yet so far away from a dream ending to the season.

Players will need to play the game, not the occasion and it's a time for discipline and not allowing the hype to go to their heads.

You can just picture rival bosses Ronnie McFall and Eddie Patterson telling their men 'don't do anything stupid'.

Portadown midfielder Robert Garrett missed his side's semi-final victory over Ballymena United after he lost control in a game against Dungannon Swifts.

The former Linfield ace stamped on Jamie Glackin and his third dismissal of the season was a costly one, reducing him to the role of frustrated spectator as the Sky Blues were overcome 3-1.

Garrett relishes a midfield scrap and his clash with Glens ace Stephen McAlorum should be worth watching but the Ballysillan boy wants to hit the headlines for the right reasons.

"I couldn't believe what happened to me before the semi-final, I don't know what was in my head," said the former Boys' Model student.

"I was massively gutted to miss the semi-final and I was more nervous watching it from the stand.

"I've been happy with my season on a personal level but I just need to cut out the silly suspensions.

"I've missed a lot of games through bans which is always annoying and I just need to cut the stupid stuff out.

"My game will never change and I will pick up bookings but there's no excuse for getting sent off for a stamp - that's just stupid behaviour.

"Sometimes I don't know what goes through my head when I do things but it's about keeping control and I can't wait for this game.

"I am not a good spectator but the boys were brilliant in the semi-final.

"The first 20 minutes were unbelievable and Ballymena United couldn't get going. In the second half we soaked everything up." Garrett has a 100 per cent record when it comes to Irish Cup finals from his Linfield days and he plans to grab his fourth winner's medal.

"To get to the Irish Cup final in my first season at Portadown is special but we need to win it to make it worth remembering," he added.

"I've played in three so far and won three and I don't want to know what the losing feeling is like.

"The first one will always stand out as I was named man of the match afterwards and that was against Portadown in 2010. In the 2012 final, the 4-1 against Crusaders, we won on my birthday, May 5, so that was also special.

"There was a lot of talk about where the final was going to be played this year and even Glentoran said they weren't happy about it being at The Oval but as players we have no control over these things and once they are decided you still have to go out and perform.

"We've had two draws there against them this season and it could be another tight game again."

Garrett was one of the three musketeers who left Linfield for the Ports last summer with Mark McAllister and Michael Gault also leaving Windsor for Shamrock Park.

"At the start it was a bit strange meeting new players for the first time but Portadown have a great changing room and it didn't take long to settle in," added the 26-year-old.

"The mentality doesn't change and the three of us went there to win trophies.

"Getting to an Irish Cup final proves that and hopefully we can win it.

"Linfield were expected to win these trophies when I was there and it's maybe not quite like that at Portadown but you can still feel the buzz around the place from the fans and even on social media.

"They are really up for it and we have to be as well.

"I still have a few friends at Linfield including Michael Carvill and with the new manager coming in it was always going to be tough in the first year but they are a massive club and I've no doubt they will strengthen and rebuild.

"The form in my last few seasons at Linfield hadn't been the way I planned and Ronnie gave me an opportunity to reignite my career and try something fresh.

"I've no regrets and I still believe I can win trophies with Portadown."

Belfast Telegraph


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