Belfast a divided city - Manchester City fans leave United faithful feeling blue
For once Belfast was divided on something other than sectarian lines — this time split according to the loyalties of another city.
On one side there was the vast majority of United fans who had, some felt, lorded it over their Manchester rivals for far too long.
On the other was the small but vocal minority of Man City supporters — and they felt their day had come.
Their ranks in the fevered atmosphere of Belfast’s Botanic Inn were bolstered by a special type of football supporter that takes delight in watching the mighty fall — the ABU (Anyone But United) brigade.
As battle commenced for the Premier League title, those who raised their pints in support of United must have thought that history was about to repeat itself as they took the lead against Sunderland.
Sharon Dobbin (29), a lifetime United supporter, was one of the Botanic patrons convinced fate was on her team’s side once again.
“People are wanting Man U to get beat because they are such a good team. But United are so going to win this,” she said.
“If we lose my dad will be depressed for weeks. It’s the stick you get at work.”
In the side bar Manchester City followers were subdued. They watched closely as their beloved team’s hopes of claiming the title appeared to be slipping away.
But, within moments, it had all changed.
Fortunes flipped with mere seconds to go as Manchester City scored twice against Queens Park Rangers in stoppage time to be crowned champions for the first time in 44 years.
The sound of jaws dropping on the floor in disbelief was only drowned by the jubilation from the supporters in sky blue shirts.
Disbelieving Man United fans stood on their seats as they watched City steal away their title in the game’s dying minutes.
The drama was unbearable for the Man U faithful.
But amid the wailing and gnashing of teeth, some — such as 24-year-old student Gareth Devlin who has supported Manchester United for 10ears — were noble in defeat.
He said: “The best team won. Manchester City played the better football this season.”
Mark O’Reilly, a lifetime United fan, agreed.
“Man City were the better team. It shows what money brings,” he said, perhaps a little uncharitably.
Belfast Telegraph football reporter Stuart McKinley said he had experienced “another rollercoaster ride as a City fan”.
“Typical City putting us through the mill yet again,” said a delirious Stuart. “With 10 minutes to go I thought it was all over and even when the equaliser went in, I thought they were just giving us more false hope.
“I was exhausted watching it, so dear knows what it was like for the players.”
Following the nail-biting match, footballs fans also gave their reaction on Twitter.
Belfast-born TV presenter and Manchester United fan Eamonn Holmes said: “In all humility, I did not expect to win the title today. Well done United. Congratulations City.”
Top golfer Graeme McDowell said: “What an incredible finish. As a United fan I'm sick; as a fan of sport, that was amazing.”
His fellow Ulster golfer Rory McIlroy was also gutted that Manchester City had triumphed on the finalday of the season.
Rory’s tennis playing girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki told her online followers: “So funny seeing @McIlroyRory being extremely happy thinking Man Utd had won the league, to then suddenly become really, really quiet...”