Biggest crowd in decade set for Glenavon v Linfield Irish Cup final clash
Glenavon and Linfield will play in front of the biggest Irish Cup final crowd for 10 years when they meet in tomorrow's showpiece at Windsor Park.
And the Lurgan Blues will go into the game boosted by the news that semi-final hero Kevin Braniff has signed a new 12-month contract at Mourneview Park.
The stage is set for the first final to be played at the newly redeveloped stadium to be a colourful occasion, with the Irish FA preparing to put up the 'sold-out' signs ahead of the game.
It is understood that only a few hundred of the 12,000 tickets for the decider remain available and they are expected to be snapped up before kick-off.
The North Stand will be a sea of blue and white, with 6,500 Linfield fans filling it, while Glenavon, who will play in the same orange and black colours in which they won the 2014 final, will be backed by 4,500 housed in the new South and East Stands. The IFA have also put 1,000 tickets on sale in the neutral section in between.
The IFA have confirmed that upwards of 10,000 tickets have already been sold, meaning the first five-figure cup final attendance since 2006 is already guaranteed.
A crowd of 12,500 watched Linfield beat Glentoran in the Big Two battle of 2006 and if, as is expected, this year’s does hit the 12,000 sell-out figure it will match the attendance of the last Glenavon-Linfield final, which was at The Oval in 1992.
When completed in the autumn, Windsor Park will have a capacity of 18,500. Currently the maximum number for internationals is 13,000.
Braniff scored all of Glenavon’s goals in the semi-final as they came from behind four times to beat Crusaders 4-3 and book their place in the decider.
The 33-year-old’s future at the club was uncertain when he couldn’t get back into the team following a hamstring injury earlier in the season, but his form, bolstered by that stunning semi-final performance, has won him a new deal.