UK news It certainly wasn't the big showpiece occasion as we know it, but Glentoran and Ballymena did us proud last news
MetiNews.Com - Temperature checks, protective face masks, gloves and hand sanitiser. This surely couldn't be local football's most glamorous day of the season - the Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup final.
Breaking News ! "Temperature checks, protective face masks, gloves and hand sanitiser. This surely couldn't be local football's most glamorous day of the season - the Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup final. A limited crowd, no merchandise vendors, no pre-match razzmatazz - and little atmosphere. It's a sign of the times.Instead of tucking into the IFA's finest cuisine, media members were instructed to meet 50 minutes before kick-off at Windsor Park to be briefed on safety guidelines.On completion of all the pre-match protocols, we were taken to the third floor. And, on entering the impressive arena, it was an eerie experience.In normal circumstances, the wall of noise would have been deafening and the ground would have been a colourful spectacle - one section decked in the red, green and black of Glentoran, the other in the sky blue of Ballymena United.Sadly, there wasn't many about the place - apart from the 500 permitted fans and a few hungry seagulls hovering overhead.Acting on government guidelines, the IFA issued both clubs with 250 tickets. It meant the game was the first in the United Kingdom to host any spectators since lockdown began back in March. They really shouldn't have bothered because the sparse crowd was mercilessly gobbled up by the enormity of the vast arena - although both sets of fans did their level best to encourage their respective Cup final gladiators by raising the decibels.When the teams duly left the sanctuary of their corporate suites - used as makeshift dressing rooms - to troop onto the lush green playing surface, it was still a far-removed scenario from an Irish Cup final.
.Although the day was far from perfect, the smile on Marcus Kane's face when he mounted the podium to take possession of the top prize in cup football said it all.His joy, of course, was tinged by sorrow because the popular defender's family had to endure the agony of losing a baby son, Harrie, late last year.Once Paul O'Neill struck midway through the first half, the hassle of temperature checks, protective masks and gloves were all forgotten.United didn't heed a warning seconds earlier when the excellent Navid Nasseri had a low shot beaten out by the boot of Ross Glendinning, but O'Neill had better luck in the next attack. Picking up a loose ball, he forged through the middle before unleashing a peach of a low shot into the bottom corner.The roar that reverberated around the international arena certainly defied the 250 Glentoran punters who were lucky enough to get a ticket.David Jeffrey's boys, however, ripped the script to shreds by levelling seconds after the interval courtesy of a thumping header from Cathair Friel, arrowing the ball past Elliott Morris at his near post.Just like both semi-finals, the game was destined for extra-time.And it was Robbie McDaid who wrote his name into the rich fabric of Glentoran by nicking a priceless winner with only five minutes left.Mick McDermott's boys are back in the big time - make no mistake about that. They not only pocketed their first piece of silverware for five years but punched their ticket to a money-spinning slot in the Europa League.Even club owner Ali Pour, who took a gamble by investing heavily on an ailing east Belfast giant, got caught up in the celebrations at the finish - and those champagne moments could well go on for quite some time."
Source = MetiNews.Com