IT was billed as Coleraine’s biggest game of the season, but unfortunately it turned into a damp squib.
The Bannsiders failed to rise to the occasion and were dumped out of the competition without so much as a whimper.
It was all too comfortable for Portadown, who eased their way into the semi finals thanks to a brace from Kevin Braniff and a Darren Murray penalty.
It meant that for the second season in succession Oran Kearney’s men exited the tournament at the quarter final stage, much to the frustration of the Bannsiders boss.
“We worked so hard to get into the quarter final of the cup,” he told Times Sport after the game.
“You get a home draw, which is everything you want, but I have to hold my hands up and say the boys just didn’t come out today.
“Fair play to Portadown they are deservedly in the semi finals.
“It’s deeply frustrating for me as a manager to have to say that.
“We had prepared really well all week and we’ve had a good month in relation to performances and results.
“I had hoped this would be the start of an even better month. Hoping is one thing, but you have to produce it out on the pitch.
“After a match like that you have to hold your hands up, Portadown were the better team today.
“We learnt at the quarter final stage last year against Crusaders that the first goal is crucial in games like this.
“Hegs has held his hands up he just couldn’t get the ball out of his feet and they punished us by scoring.
“Things like that hurt you. The first goal leaves you chasing the game and against a side like Portadown that makes it very tough for you.
“Everyone in the league knows the quality Portadown have and even the quality that they have missing at the minute.
“They are a super side and they showed that today.”
Kearney had no real argument with the penalty decision midway through the second half. Instead he was more upset that his side failed to trouble opposition keeper David Miskelly into any real action until the closing stages.
“I couldn’t really see from the distance I was away from the incident, but Aaron wasn’t happy with the decision,” he revealed.
“But to be honest I’d rather be talking about our players bursting into their box and forcing the referee into decisions like that.
“To me that sums up the game. We just didn’t get ourselves into those sort of positions.
“We had a few half chances early on, but the goal hurt us and we just didn’t recover from it.
“We had quite a bit of territory in the second half, but we just didn’t trouble Portadown enough.
“Goals win games and Portadown got the goals today.”
Kearney now has to pick the players up for this Saturday’s league game at home to Crusaders. With top six qualification still not assured he knows that they will have to learn from this defeat and quickly.
“A lot of our guys have come from lower leagues and maybe haven’t played a lot in the Premiership so they should be glad of the chance to be there,” said Kearney.
“I don’t think there should be a problem lifting them for Saturday’s game against Crusaders, but we’ll see on Tuesday night.
“We have an awful lot to learn from today’s game.”
Kearney looks likely to be without defenders Ryan McIlmoyle and Johnny Watt. McIlmoyle needed stitches in a bad knee wound and Watt suffered a broken wrist.