IRISH CUP FINAL: Striker’s goal to end his first season with the Ports by bringing silverware back to Shamrock Park

Mark McAllister celebrates scoring against Ballymena United in the Irish Cup semi-final. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Mark McAllister celebrates scoring against Ballymena United in the Irish Cup semi-final. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Irish Cup finals have provided the touchstones of Mark McAllister’s career.

As a teenager he had his penalty kick saved in Dungannon Swifts’ shoot-out defeat by Linfield.

Three goals in as many final appearances then arrived during Linfield’s cup hat-trick run from 2010.

McAllister is now one match away from marking his first season at Shamrock Park with a winner’s medal for his hometown club.

One of the season’s defining images arrived in the semi-final victory against Ballymena United as raw emotion took over McAllister during his celebration after breaking the deadlock.

“A cup win on Saturday would mean everything,” said McAllister. “I have won three finals and lost one, with a decent run of goals but at Linfield you are expected to win everything.

I will have plenty of family and friends down at The Oval but I came to this club to win medals.

Mark McAllister

“I will have plenty of family and friends down at The Oval but I came to this club to win medals.

“Ronnie McFall has been 100 per cent from day one.

“It would be great to repay his faith by winning the trophy, plus the supporters have also been brilliant since I arrived.”

McAllister’s composed finish within the intensity of the semi-final handed Portadown a perfect start on the way to the 3-1 triumph.

That last-four lift arrived off the back of a similar pattern in the Ports’ quarter-final victory over Linfield.

“We came flying out of the blocks in both ties so managed to get into a great position,” said McAllister. “Glentoran have players that can hurt you but I look at this squad and feel we are capable of winning together.

“There is quality and we had a disappointing finish to the league but I feel the group is better than our final position.

“Crusaders won the league due to that consistency but on our day results prove we can beat anyone.

“Everyone is looking forward to Saturday and it is about the performance on the day.”

Cup glory would hand McAllister a perfect finale to his first season with the Ports. The striker has high hopes for future progress.

“For a club of Portadown’s size, it is hard to believe the last Irish Cup win was 10 years ago,” he said. “But it is about this squad pushing on together now.

“There is plenty of potential, with so many quality young players gaining experience this season that will help them and the group overall.

“Added depth and experience can help you achieve consistency so a cup win would be a big step forward for everyone.”