MID-ULSTER CUP: Rathfriland claim Portadown cup scalp at Shamrock Park

Rathfriland Rangers manager Paul Kirk. Pic by Paul Byrne.
Rathfriland Rangers manager Paul Kirk. Pic by Paul Byrne.

Paul Kirk’s Northern Amateur League-based Rathfriland Rangers produced a Mid-Ulster Cup shock to claim the senior scalp of Portadown at Shamrock Park by 2-1.

Portadown gained early control thanks to an element of luck on 21 minutes after good work along the left by Mikey Withers and Matthew Parker. Parker’s cross across the face of goal eventually deflected off Eoin Kirwan and over the line as Rangers attempted to clear the threat.

A superb pass by Mark McAllister split the Rangers backline to release Matthew Rooney but he was unable to maximise the time and space as Mark Winston produced a save.

Kirwan then hit the crossbar with a firm header off the resultant corner-kick by Brendan Shannon.

Rangers, however, settled as play progressed - with the benefit of Irish League experience including Peter McCann, the latter having happy memories of a career at Portadown that included title glory in 2002.

It was a case of fortune favours the brave on 39 minutes when David Graham’s drive from distance bounced off the base of Chris McGaughey’s right-hand post - only to hit off the Ports goalkeeper’s back and over the line.

Rangers placed Portadown under pressure over the final moments of the half and McGaughey had to produce two smart saves before the visitors moved in front thanks to Darryl Evans’ header inside a packed penalty area.

Rangers started the second half with the same energy and confidence as they closed the first.

McCann was presented with a golden opportunity to increase the lead after a great run by the impressive Thomas Lockhart but he fired wide from inside the area.

An injury-time lifeline arrived for substitute Garry Breen but his close-range header cleared the crossbar - seconds before the final whistle confirmed Rangers’ victory.

PORTADOWN: Chris McGaughey, Mark Carson, Matthew Parker, Ben Murdock, Alan Byrne, Brendan Shannon, Tim Mouncey, Mikey Withers, Eoin Kirwan, Matthew Rooney, Mark McAllister. Subs: Conor Larkin, Ross Larkin, Zac Wilson (Kirwan, 72), Garry Breen (Mouncey, 65), Nedas Maciulaitis (Rooney, 72).

RATHFRILAND RANGERS: Mark Winston, Johnny Roy, Stephen Coulter, Connor Larkin, Daryll Evans, Peter McCann, David Graham, Jonathan Scannell, Nathan McConnell, Thomas Lockhart, Darren McGrath. Subs: Johnny Black (Lockhart, 65), Alastair Wilson, James Costello, Jack Graham, Ryan Clydesdale.