Jim Magilton feared iconic Irish Cup moment would end up like Devon Loch

A picture of Cliftonville’s Ronan Hale scoring into an open goal to seal the Irish Cup
Cliftonville’s Ronan Hale scores into an open goal to seal the Irish Cup -Credit:INPHO/Jonathan Porter

Ronan Hale racing clear to put the ball into an empty net and seal the Irish Cup will go down as an iconic memory for years to come.

Hale had half the pitch to run into with the goal gaping after Linfield goalkeeper Chris Johns had pushed forward to try and help his side grab an equaliser right at the death. The Cliftonville fans erupted as Hale began celebrating before he had even scored but his manager was worried that it may end up like Devon Loch in the 1956 Grand National as he faltered with the finish line in sight with nobody near him.

"He had obviously been down with cramp not long before and I thought he was going to fall over," explained Magilton. "It reminded me of Devon Loch in the Grand National!

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"I was actually quite calm, which is actually not like me. Obviously there was the realisation that we had won the cup, but I was actually really calm. The rest of them went ballistic, the whole bench emptied. That moment is huge."

Magilton was full of praise for his players as they battled back from a goal down and losing two key players to injury in the first half to bring the Irish Cup back to Solitude for the first time in 45 years.

"I've just seen the '79 group with Marty Quinn and they're delighted," said Magilton. "It's off the scale - it's as great a victory as I've ever had in my football life with everything that happened. It's just magnificent.

"To show the courage, resilience and that mental fortitude to do what we've done today...those players deserve so much credit. Two lads who have been so strong and important for us, when you lose two in one half...but you have to say Luke Kenny and Nathan Gartside were absolutely brilliant. I'm delighted.

"If you look at our passage to winning this we played four Premiership clubs and a Championship club which is now a Premiership club...we don't do it the easy way at this football club it seems."

It was a double celebration for Magilton as Ipswich Town, who he played for and managed, sealed promotion to the Premier League. The Reds boss passed his congratulations on to current boss and fellow Northern Irishman Kieran McKenna saying: "It's phenomenal, I'm delighted for Kieran he's a genius.".

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