The village of Kilmore and Downpatrick town are only six miles apart and that makes the Paddy Power Co Antrim Steel Cup final a true derby in every sense of the word.
Kilmore Rec and Downpatrick have much in common as they prepare to hold centre stage at Seaview tomorrow morning (10.45am).
They are local clubs with a great deal of rivalry, and interaction between the players and managers Gary Kennedy and David Straney who played together for Kilmore back in the 1990s.
Also, it is a case of a number of firsts all round.
It is the first time that both have reached the final in what is the first all-Amateur League clash since Shorts beat Barn United back in 1979 and it is Straney’s first season in sole charge at Downpatrick as they bid to become the first team from the town to lift the prestigious silverware since the now defunct Downpatrick Rec in 1978.
And just to keep it in the family, brothers Joe and Gerard MsStay will be in opposite dugouts as part of the coaching staff, Joe in the Kilmore camp and Gerard with Downpatrick.
The last time the two teams met was in the Border Cup in 2008 when Kilmore won on penalties before going on to lose to Sport & Leisure while it was Downpatrick who relegated Kilmore into Division 1A two seasons ago.
But while Downpatrick are Paddy Power’s favourites at 8-11 to lift the trophy, it would be foolhardy to pay too much attention to the fact that Kilmore are in the lower division.
Rec were worth their victory over H & W Welders in the semi-final just as Downpatrick proved shock-winners against Ards. Few would have predicted those outcomes.
“It was a great boost for the Amateur League,” said joint-manager Kennedy who is certain to name himself in the Kilmore team. When on the pitch, he leaves the sideline duties to Paul Mullan as he will doe here as he wouldn’t miss this game for the world.
“I have played in the Irish League and in Europe but this is the icing on the cake for me. Kilmore is where I started my career and to be playing in the Steel Cup final for the club where I belong, is something I could only have dreamed of.”
Kennedy and Straney were a striking duo for Kilmore a decade ago so they are no strangers to each other.
“I could not have imagined being in the final in my first season as manager of Downpatrick,” said Straney.
“My players just have to make sure they enjoy the occasion, playing in front of a big crowd and if they produce what they are capable of, then they can win it.
Downpatrick will have late fitness tests on centre-half Jim McStravick and full-back Barry Fitzsimons, both with groin strains while midfielder Peter Telford picked up a knock in last Saturday’s Premier Section 4-3 defeat by Malachians.
Kilmore striker Niall Murray is doubtful with a knee injury sustained in the win over East Belfast.
This is a hard encounter to call but a draw at 90 minutes is probably the best bet.
Other traditional finals down for decision on Saturday include the Newcastle League’s Bobby Dalzell Cup which sees Ballyvange and Valley Rangers in action at Meadowvale, Drumaness (1pm) while in Lisburn, the South Antrim League's Ironside Cup final takes place at Stanley Park, — the home of Lisburn Rangers — for the first time on Boxing Day (11am).
The finalists are Braniel YM, in their first season in the league, who shocked favourites Warren YM in the semi-finals and South Antrim who defeated Lambeg Star 2-0 in the other last four game.