Belfast Telegraph

Anyone can have final say: Leeman

By Robert Fenton

It's rather unusual to see a team making their Crest Teamwear Steel & Sons Cup final debut and being quoted hot favourites to win outright.

But that's the 'cross' H & W Welders bear as they prepare to face eight-times winners Brantwood in the Co. Antrim decider at Seaview tomorrow morning (10.45).

McGranaghan bookmakers make Welders a very short price at 4-11 to lift the trophy with Brantwood at 2-1.

That makes the east Belfast side the shortest-priced team to win the prestigious silverware for many a long year.

Brantwood are 2-1 and no doubt there will be plenty of the Blues' supporters willing to risk a few quid.

The same firm go 4-5 Welders in 90 minutes while Eastwood's are slightly better at 9-10.

Alternatively, McGranaghan's go 3-1 the Brants in normal time compared to Eastwood's 13-5 while the draw works out at 9-4 and 11-5 respectively.

So if you fancy the Welders you back with Eastwood's and go with McGranaghan's if a dyed-in-the-wool Skegoneill Road fan.

Based on league form, the men from the east hold sway, as they are making a bid for First Division honours and possible promotion to the Premier League while Brantwood have yet to get into gear in the Second Division with no wins from five games.

On the form-book, that 9-10 is a Christmas cracker of a bet although Welders boss Tommy Leeman will not be taken in by "bookmakers' talk."

"Finals are not won on the basis of bookies odds. They are decided on the park and we all know that underdogs often upset the applecart," he said.

"Look at West Ham in the FA Cup. They came so close to defeating Liverpool and I expect Rab Irwin to have his men up for tomorrow's game. We will take nothing for granted. We are at full strength and have a great desire to win this trophy for the club. They have waited so long to be part of it."

Brantwood manager Irwin who had a spell as assistant to George Neill at the Welders, refused to consider current league form and added: "Being at the bottom of the league counts for nothing. I have been around a lot of corners to know that finals are one-off.

"We will be very much up for it and it is great just getting to the final. It's all about what happens on the day and as long as we give of our best, I can't ask for more than that."

Extra time and penalties will decide the outcome if necessary with no replay.

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