It wouldn’t be Irish League football without a modicum of controversy, would it?
The fall-out from Saturday’s Marie Curie Irish Cup final continues to unfold.
Willie Garrett’s late intervention on Michael Gault; referee Ross Dunlop’s decision to wave play on; Glentoran’s winning goal less than a minute later.
There you have it – the game encased a nut shell.
It wasn’t the greatest of showpiece finals.
The Oval did look resplendent with over 8,000 supporters packed into the east Belfast venue.
Some atrocious weather played its part, with both sets of players struggling to gain any rhythm on the rain-sodden surface.
It wasn’t one for the purists, but Irish Cup finals rarely are.
The controversy from Saturday’s decider spilled onto the Sunday papers, and the furore has overflowed into Monday’s publications.
But when the dust settles on ‘Gaultgate’, hopefully Glentoran will be offered the praise they deserve following another Irish Cup win.
Eddie Patterson has now guided the Mersey Street club to two blue riband cup successes in three years.
They defeated his former club Cliftonville in the 2013 showpiece, and repeated the feat against Portadown on Saturday.
It is a seismic return from a manager who has been shackled by financial constraints since arriving at The Oval in February 2012.
As Director of Football Roy Coyle succinctly put in a recent interview, “People say that Eddie has been working with his hands tied behind his back, but you could argue that he has had his legs shackled, eyes blindfolded and thrown into the Atlantic and told to swim.”
Despite Glentoran’s frugal approach, Patterson has assembled a promising squad of burgeoning talent.
The general consensus is that they may be punching above their weight, exceeding all expectations.
All fair comment.
But given time, and the injection of some more experience, and the Glens could return as a potent force in the Irish League.
Patterson has a key role to play, but there are doubts over his own future at The Oval.
The 46-year-old admitted last week that there were issues “off the pitch” that needed to be resolved.
And despite having a year left on his current deal it is not set in stone that he will see out his contractual obligations.
“Am I confident I will get my own future sorted out? That depends on what happens over the next week,” Patterson said on Saturday
“I will leave it at that. Today is about the boys and lapping up the adulation. I won’t take the limelight away from them.”
Deflecting the attention to his cup-winning players was the honourable thing to do, but Patterson deserves immense credit for the role he has played.
A work in progress? Yes.
Let’s now hope he gets the chance to finish the job he has started at The Oval.