The history of Glentoran and Portadown in the Irish Cup is for the most part, a tale of success for the men from East Belfast. The connection goes right back to The Ports first season as a senior club, 1924-25 and takes us up to this weekend’s encounter. In all the sides have met 27 times, with 16 wins for Glentoran, 3 wins for Portadown and 8 drawn matches.
The first meeting, a first round tie, took place at Shamrock Park on 29th November 1924. Tom Wilson missed the opportunity to put the Ports in front from the penalty spot, before outside left, Alfie Snape, scored the only goal of the game to send The Glens into the next round.
Solitude was the venue for the next meeting in 1931/32, a semi-final tie at Solitude. The IFA drastically increased admission prices for the semi-finals, and when a protest from Glentoran went unheeded the fans voted with their feet. A poor crowd of 5,500 turned out to watch Fred Roberts hit the winner in a 2-1 victory for the Belfast men.
The teams did not have long to wait for the next encounter, just over a year later at The Oval, but it was not as comfortable a victory for the Glens as the 4-1 scoreline would suggest. Portadown squandered a number of excellent goalscoring opportunities and there was controversy around Glentoran’s second goal, when Roberts, who had been of the field for treatment, came back on without the referee’s permission. He latched onto the ball and crossed for Sandy McNeill to score, amid protests from Portadown, the goal was allowed to stand.
The Ports withdrew from senior football in 1942 due to the effects of the war, and they returned again in 1947/48. The following season they progressed to the Irish Cup semi-final where a crowd of 15,000 were at Windsor Park to witness the action, including a dog and a goat bedecked in Ports colours. Portadown leading 2-1 and with clock running down looked destined for their first Irish Cup Final, but a last minute equalizer from future Northern Ireland manager Billy Bingham, took it to a replay. The re-match on the following Wednesday again ended all square before Glentoran put paid to The Reds final dreams with a 3-0 win in the second reply.
A second round tie in 1955 would also go to three games, with 1-1 draws at The Oval and Shamrock Park, before the ‘Cock and Hens’ progressed with a 2-0 win at Solitude. The first meeting at The Oval saw the headline in the Ireland’s Saturday Night, “ Fisticuffs and Fierce Excitement”, with at one stage up to a dozen players becoming embroiled in a punch-up.
Glentoran’s Irish Cup supremacy over The Reds would continue unabated with a 4-0 semi-final victory in 1956 and a similar result in a second round tie in 1965. Their success looked likely to be added to in a last four meeting at Windsor Park in 1988. With ten minutes remaining Glentoran were coasting at 2-0, when Gregg Davidson shocked the East Belfast men to reduce the deficit to one goal. Mickey Keenan then brought down Jameson and Cleary restored the two goal cushion from the penalty spot. The late drama continued with McKeever sent off for Portadown before Millar reduced the arrears once more to a single goal. Glentoran hung on to progress to the Final 3-2.
Two years later The Ports ‘double’ hopes were shattered when The Glens beat the newly crowned Champions 3-0 in the final. A 1-0 replay victory at Shamrock Park in 1993 and another Cup Final success in 2000, this time with a 1-0 win continued the Glens unbeaten Irish Cup record against Portadown. The seventeenth meeting took place in a quarter-final tie at The Oval in 2002, ending all square at 1-1. And so the 78 year unbeaten record stood intact for Glentoran as they prepared for the replay at Shamrock Park. In seventeen previous meetings we had witnessed drama, excitement and all facets of entertainment that the Irish Cup can produce. Game eighteen however was to outdo all that had taken place previously. Portadown took the lead through Arkins on 12 minutes, but just six minutes later Armour’s 20 yard effort levelled it for Glentoran. Cullen Feeney restored the homeside’s lead four minutes before the break but would then turn villain when he handled in the box with Walker converting from the spot to tie it at 2-2. On the hour mark Batey put Glentoran ahead for the first time in the match and the ten men Ports looked done and dusted. The drama was not over however and it took just four minutes for Batey to deflect a Douglas shot into his own net. The packed crowd at Shamrock Park were ecstatic but it was nothing to the wild scenes that greeted an 82nd minute from Peter McCann. After 78 years and 18 games, Portadown had recorded their first Irish Cup win against Glentoran.
In the nine games since then the drama had continued to unfold, including three semi-final wins for Glentoran and a penalty shoot-out victory for Portadown. The sides met again in the 2002/03 semi- final at Mourneview Park, a match that Ports fans would rather forget as they finished on the end of a 6-1 mauling, and saw red cards for Convery and Atkins, and all this after Hamilton had given Portadown the lead. Two years later Portadown gained a measure of revenge with Marc McCann’s 74th minute goal securing a semi/final replay victory. Meetings between the sides continued year on year with Glentoran winning 2-0 in 2005/06 and the following season the Ports won a fifth round replay after a 4-3 penalty shootout success. 2013 and 2014 saw Glentoran claim they bragging rights before that still talked about 2015 Final.
It was a final shrouded in controversy from start to finish. With the structural faults in the West Stand at Windsor Park, the Final was moved to The Oval amidst loud protests from Portadown. We then had the ticket fiasco with the IFA being forced to abandon sales of tickets via Ticketmaster and permit both clubs to distribute their own ticket sales. The game itself was no less controversial, with Referee Ross Dunlop failing to send of William Garrett for a professional foul on Michael Gault as he bore down on goals. Glentoran immediately counter attacked as the Portadown players continued to protest. David Scullion beat David Miskelly at his near post to give The Glens the lead. The referee and his officials then missed a handball in the box denying Portadown a penalty. The match finished 1-0 to Glentoran amid protests from Portadown.
29/11/24 / Round 1 / Shamrock Park / Portadown 0 Glentoran 1
06/02/32 / Semi-Final / Windsor Park / Portadown 1 Glentoran 2
11/02/33 / Round 2 / The Oval / Glentoran 4 Portadown 1
26/03/49 / Semi-Final / Windsor Park / Portadown 2 Glentoran 2
30/03/49 / Semi-Final replay / Windsor Park / Portadown 1 Glentoran 1
04/04/49 / Semi-Final 2nd Replay / Windsor Park / Portadown 0 Glentoran 3
05/03/55 / Round 2 / The Oval / Glentoran 1 Portadown 1
10/03/55 / Replay / Shamrock Park / Portadown 1 Glentoran 1
14/03/55 / 2nd Replay / Solitude / Portadown 0 Glentoran 2
24/03/56 / Semi-Final / Windsor Park / Portadown 0 Glentoran 4
06/03/65 / Round 2 / The Oval / Glentoran 4 Portadown 0
09/04/88 / Semi-Final / Windsor Park / Portadown 2 Glentoran 3
05/05/90 / Final / Windsor Park / Glentoran 3 Portadown 0
23/01/93 / Round 5 / The Oval / Glentoran 0 Portadown 0
27/01/93 /Replay / Shamrock Park / Portadown 0 Glentoran 1
06/05/00 / Final / Windsor Park / Glentoran 1 Portadown 0
09/03/02 / Quarter-Final / The Oval / Glentoran 1 Portadown 1
12/03/02 / Replay / Shamrock Park / Portadown 4 Glentoran 3
05/04/03 / Semi-Final / Mourneview Park / Glentoran 6 Portadown 1
02/04/05 / Semi-Final / Windsor Park / Glentoran 0 Portadown 0
05/04/05 / Replay / Windsor Park / Portadown 1 Glentoran 0
04/03/06 / Quarter-Final / The Oval / Glentoran 2 Portadown 0
10/02/07 / Round 5 / The Oval / Glentoran 2 Portadown 2
20/02/07 / Replay / Shamrock Park / Portadown 1 Glentoran 1 (4-3 pens)
06/04/13 / Semi-Final / Windsor Park / Glentoran 1 Portadown 0
11/01/14 / Round 5 / Shamrock Park / Portadown 1 Glentoran 3
02/05/15 / Final /The Oval / Glentoran 1 Portadown 0
P27 W3 D8 L16 F20 A53