Say what one will about Rumpelstiltskin, but that character was almost a leprechaun
. Good thing Colm Meaney put his boot in there.
About Valiant: Yes, the Valiant punks are annoying for the entire episode. That is what makes the ending so fulfilling. The ending turns Valiant is a great episode.
Actually, when DS9 originally aired, "Valiant" was one of my favourite standalone episodes of the sixth season. Granted part of this had to do with the gimmick of seeing another Defiant-class ship, but I did generally like the Red Squad plot and only really found their commander very obnoxious.