Raging Ronnie McFall took a swipe at referee Ross Dunlop and his match officials after his team crashed to defeat in Saturday’s rain-drench Irish Cup final at The Oval.
The long-serving Portadown boss insisted his boys were denied two “stonewall” penalty kicks, while Glentoran defender Willie Garrett should have been shown a red card for a “blatant trip” on Michael Gault in the second half.
Ironically, seconds after the game’s most controversial moment, the Glens surged ahead with David Scullion grabbing the decisive winner to take the cup back to the Oval for the second time in three years.
“The officials just weren’t up to it – and I make no apologies for saying that,” roared McFall.
“Here we are again talking about the performance of the officials on supposedly the biggest day on the soccer calendar.
“They keep making major mistakes and nothing is ever done about it – that’s the bottom line. There is never any action taken against them. They are never down-graded or whatever, they just carry on as if nothing ever happened. Every Saturday is the same.
“To be honest, I’m seeing lads referee in the Irish League, but for me, they should be still learning the game in junior football. They have no experience – and are just not up to it. They are being fast-tracked through the system.”
On the Gault incident, McFall remarked: “From where I was, it was a trip and a straight red card. I think the television clearly shows that.
“We also had two blatant penalty kicks turned down. Gary Twigg was pulled down inside the box in the first half. The ref wasn’t interested.
“Then in the second half, there was a hand ball by a defender (Calum Birney) to prevent a Twigg header. It once again proved to me the officials were not up to it.
“I don’t know how he missed Garrett’s trip on Gault. He is clean through. It’s a straight red card and a free kick for us.
“It’s not as if the referee is alone out there. He has an assistant on our side of the pitch and another guy behind the goals. So all three of them missed the incident? We obviously switched off for a few seconds after it and that’s when Glentoran scored.
“There wasn’t a lot of goal mouth action over the 90 minutes. Our goalkeeper (David Miskelly) hadn’t a save to make, but in a match of this importance, the referee has to get the decisions right.
“That game was worth £150,000. In may opinion . . . and I don’t give a damn whether I’m pulled over the coals or not, the officials were not up to it. That’s the bottom line.
“I’ve had text messages sent to me from people watching the game on television, saying we were robbed and the referee was a disgrace.
“Am I that colour-blind. Am I the only one that sees these things?
“There was clear contact. That was the big moment in the game and the referee and officials didn’t get it right.
“But it’s the same every week. Every game in our league on a weekly basis, up and down the country, there are controversial decisions they don’t get right. That’s the way I see it.
“It may been his (Dunlop) first cup final, but what’s that got to do with it. Either your up to the task or your not.”
Glens defender Garrett said:“I think there was a bit of contact, but at the time I genuinely thought Michael had clipped me.
“Having watched it on TV, there is some doubt but I will take that little bit of luck.
“Some Portadown players were too busy complaining in the referee’s ear and they switched off.
“Then 20 seconds later we have gone up the pitch and scored the winning goal.
“This is the best feeling ever. I missed out on the final two years ago as I had just come back from a loan spell at Lisburn Distillery. I was delighted for the lads that day but this feels incredible. We only conceded one goal in the Irish Cup this season, so I don’t think anyone can argue with is winning it.”