Belfast derby cup decider full of Eastern promise
East Belfast's 'unbelievable' support can inspire their players to victory in tomorrow's Steel and Sons Cup final against Sirocco Works, according to assistant manager Paul Wilson.
The Christmas Day decider is always a memorable occasion but with the 2018 clash at Seaview being a local derby between Amateur League Premier division outfit East Belfast and Sirocco Works, a league below them in 1A, it promises to be even more special than usual.
East Belfast coach Wilson was a player for the club when they last won the trophy in 1992 and believes the vocal backing from the fans can be a key factor at the Shore Road venue as it was when they won 1-0 in the semi-final against St James Swifts.
"I've been to Irish League matches over the years, but I've never seen support like it in my life," said Wilson. "Our fans were outstanding and you could tell how much it meant to them to reach the final. They came from all over east Belfast and enjoyed the atmosphere and our win.
"I reckon we had over 2,000 people at it. For an Amateur League team to have that kind of support was unbelievable.
"For our players it was a big boost to walk out in front of that crowd and I think it will be even bigger on Christmas Day.
"I think they have heard that we play good football and people want to watch that. Across east Belfast I think people want to get behind us. This Steel & Sons Cup run has really brought them out.
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"I'm sure Sirocco will have a good support there too so it is going to be an occasion to remember for everyone involved with the clubs."
East Belfast will look to top scorer Danny McKee to provide the goals, while Sirocco believe they have a forward in Kurtis Hanna who can deliver the goods.
Hanna has netted every time he has played in the Steel and Sons Cup this year. When he was unavailable due to a stag weekend, brothers Scott and Mark Dornan were on target in a 2-0 victory over Abbey Villa. They certainly have big match pedigree with ex-Linfield and Crusaders great Alan their dad.
Sirocco Works boss Darren Frame, who previously played for East Belfast, said: "They are favourites because they are a league above us but we did beat them twice last season so we are going into the game in a positive mood.
"It's an absolutely huge game for us. Over the past three years we have won promotion and made it to the Clarence Cup final but this is the highlight.
"We haven't won the competition for 80 years so it would be incredible if we could do it."
Sirocco Works vs East Belfast
Toals Steel & Sons Cup Final:
Seaview, Tomorrow, 10.45am