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Irish Cup Final: Time to 1979 to bed says Reds great Marty Quinn

Written by on May 3, 2024

Having been involved in one golden era at Solitude as a player, Quinn ushered in another as manager in the 1990s, but an Irish Cup win would remain elusive.

The side would endure a couple of near misses, including what Quinn calls his worst day in football.

They were beaten 1-0 by Glenavon in the 1997 showpiece, but were the reigning Irish Premiership champions when they advanced to the final again in 1999.

What followed was one of the most infamous incidents in the competition’s history.

After it was found that Simon Gribben, who had appeared off the bench in Cliftonville’s semi-final victory over Linfield, had been ineligible, the game was cancelled on the eve of the final and Portadown were declared winners without a ball being kicked.

“The worst thing that happened to me in football,” said Quinn.

“It was a horrible feeling. They were still selling tickets right up to the Thursday night and we thought it was going to go ahead. I got a phone call from our secretary John Duffy on the Friday morning saying it was gone, that we weren’t playing in the Irish Cup final.

“I don’t hold any grudges against the big man Simon Gribben at all, it was an honest mistake.

“He didn’t realise he’d already played in an Irish Cup qualifier with Kilmore Rec. I’d meet him a few times after that and he was in a bad way. I had to put him right.

“He just made a genuine mistake.”

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