Ten Years On
10th ANNIVERSARY OF DISTILLERY WINNING THE CIS LEAGUE CUP.
2nd April 2011 CIS League Cup Final at Mourneview Park, Lurgan
Portadown 1 Distillery 2
Over 600 Distillery fans turned out for the CIS League Cup Final with many still harbouring bad memories of the last time that the teams had met on the big stage – the 1994/95 Budweiser Cup Final when Portadown came from behind to win 4-2.
Distillery fielded virtually the same team that had beaten Portadown the previous week in the League, apart from captain Pat McShane coming back in for Aaron Traynor.
PORTADOWN: — David Miskelly; Keith O’Hara, Ross Redman; Shane McCabe, Brian Gartland, Gary Breen; Tim Mouncey, Richard Clarke (88 Philip Craig), Matthew Tipton (81 Richard Lecky), Kevin Braniff, Jordan Baker (75 Wesley Boyle). Subs not used: — Armstrong, Mackle.
DISTILLERY: — Billy Brennan; Aaron Callaghan, Pat McShane; Gary Thompson (45 Scott Davidson), Andy Hunter, Philip Simpson; Andy Kilmartin, Mark Cooling, Gary Liggett, Glenn Ferguson, Gary Browne (45 David Cushley). Subs not used: — Philip Matthews, Andy Devlin, Mark Patton.
Portadown started strongly and Billy Brennan made a fine save when Matthew Tipton shot from the edge of the box in the 87th minute. Then the Whites had a lucky escape when following a corner Glenn Ferguson’s clearance header hit former Whiteman Tim Mouncey and rebounded off the bar. The Whites first opportunity came after 17 minutes when Mark Cooling shot from 20 yards, but it flew just over the bar. Portadown immediately put the pressure back on with Mouncey finding space in the box but firing over. Tipton then shot wide and a great run by Redman caused panic before Brennan claimed the ball. In the 34th minute Brennan got his fingertips to a diving header from Shane McCabe and within a minute the Whites broke away. Ferguson won the ball, passed to Gary Thompson who set up Gary Liggett, but his shot was saved by David Miskelly. Then on 43 minutes Portadown deservedly took the lead. The ball flew across the area to Matthew Tipton and he reacted quickly to get in position on the edge of the area and hit a left-foot half-volley screamer from an awkward angle into the top corner of the net. As the first half ended Portadown would regret that they hadn’t scored more. They had certainly dominated the play as the Whites could not get to grips with their formation especially with their over-lapping full-backs swamping Pat McShane and Aaron Callaghan. The Ports passing game had been excellent and the Whites had been chasing shadows.
It was during the interval that Whites Manager Tommy Wright took a brave game-changing decision. Many Distillery supporters were astounded that he had taken off two key senior players, Gary Browne and Gary Thompson and replaced them with two youngsters, Scott Davidson and David Cushley. However, six minutes into the second half and the Whites were back in the game. Glenn Ferguson picked up a loose header from Richard Clarke and carried it towards the box for Scott Davidson to steam in to smash a tremendous drive from 20 yards that flew past Miskelly into the net. The Whites fans couldn’t believe it – they had a new hero — and within a few minutes he was unlucky with another close range shot that brought a great reaction save out of Miskelly. However Portadown has a great chance in the 65th minute but Tipton mis-timed his shot and it flew just wide. At the other end David Cushley tried to get in a shot but a great last-ditch tackle from Brian Gartland thwarted him. In the 72nd minute Miskelly made a double save from Davidson and Liggett. After this Portadown started to dominate again. Substitute Richard Leckey had a good chance from a Mouncey cross in the 83rd minute, but his header was easily saved by Brennan. It was all Portadown pressure from then on as they forced a series of corners. The Whites defence valiantly stood up to them as the Whites fans prayed for extra-time.
Then with just a minute to go and the Whites sitting-back, the unbelievable happened. Shane McCabe dithered outside the Whites box when he had every chance to put in a cross. David Cushley pressurised him and stole the ball and headed off like a whippet straight into the Portadown half pursued by a couple of defenders. As he got near the box he was almost caught by Gartland, but he was strong enough to hold off the challenge and when everyone was expecting him to blast it over, he coolly placed it into the right-hand corner past the advancing Miskelly for the winning goal. It was a goal fit to win any final. The Whites fans went ballistic but had to endure three minutes of added time before referee Mark Courtney blew the final whistle to signal a Distillery victory. It was their first senior trophy for 18 years.
There was jubilation all round as captain Pat McShane lifted the trophy. It was the fourth League Cup medal of his long career. Andy Hunter also collected his fourth as did the legendary Glenn Ferguson (who was also Man-of-the- match), but his was particularly important. ‘Spike’ would have liked to have gotten the winner but as he said ‘Give credit to the kids who came on as subs. Goals change matches, so well done Scott Davidson and David Cushley. They were immense and deserve all the kudos. I want to thank them and the rest of the lads for making this final a great day for me. This is one of my greatest moments. Now I can bow out at the end of the season on a high, just as I always wanted.’ The 41 year old collected the 30th senior medal of his magnificent Irish League career.
For Manager Tommy Wright it was the second miracle of his brief Distillery career — having orchestrated ‘The Great Escape’ from certain relegation the previous season. ‘I was probably thinking about the substitutions from halfway through the first half’, he said. ‘Maybe not necessarily those changes, but I’d said to John Cunningham and Iam McFaul that we needed to change it. I don’t know what it was first half because we’d worked all week on stopping their fullbacks getting out. Whether some were overcome with the occasion I’m not sure. We were lucky to go in 1-0 down, but that scoreline was important. Sometimes you take a punt as a manager and if it works great, but you need a bit of luck at times and we got that’.
The Whites journey to the Final was eventful. It started on 18th September 2010 with a 2nd Round tie at Armagh City and a one-side 9-0 victory. Gary Browne got a hat-trick and the other scorers were, Mark Patton, Glenn Ferguson, Philip Simpson, George Stewart (on his debut), Gary Liggett and an own goal. The 3rd Round tie was also away – at Institute on 23rd October 2010 and saw a 3-0 victory with two goals from Gary Thompson and one from Gary Browne. It was a home tie for the quarter-final on 11th January 2011 against Newry City and the 3-1 victory saw goals from Gary Liggett (2) and Mark Patton. The semi-final was also at New Grosvenor against a formidable Crusaders side. A very exciting and tense game saw the teams tied at 2-2 after extra-time with Gary Liggett and David Cushley scoring for the Whites. The Whites won the penalty shoot-out 4-2 with Mark Cooling netting the winner after Billy Brennan had saved from Stuart Dallas.
Other players who took part in the cup run (apart from the Cup Final squad) were: — Paul Muir, John Curran, Aaron Traynor, George Stewart, Stuart Addis, Darren Coyle, Philip Carson as well as unused subs: — Stuart Thompson, Jordan Forsythe, Chris McCloskey and Blane Scott.
Compiled by Dawson Simpson 1-4-2021.