Football fever has gripped Coleraine in the run up to Saturday’s Irish Cup final with lamp posts adorned with blue and white flags and businesses showing their support.
Around 5,000 fans from the town are expected to make the journey to Windsor Park in the hope that Oran Kearney’s men can repeat their winning exploits of 2003 and lift the much sought after trophy at Linfield’s expense.
And while the controversy over a ticket price hike may be parked for now, buses, cars and other modes of transport won’t be as Coleraine supporters make the trip to Belfast for the showpiece finale to the local soccer season.
Caring Caretaker Davy Boyle, a life-long fan, has been behind the campaign to get shops and businesses to show their backing for the Bannsiders and he has been delighted at the response.
“I remember when I was a young man all the shops would have decorated their windows if Coleraine got to a cup final. In those days there were a lot more local business but everyone in the town got behind the team and so I thought I would go round the shops to see if they would show their support this year.
“So far it’s going well and there has been a lot of interest. It is important everyone gets behind the club, they are part of the town.
“People have gone to a lot of trouble to decorate their windows and I appreciate it and I’m sure the players and manager appreciate it as well.”
Irwin Donaghey Stockman, chartered accountants in Queen Street, was one of the many businesses to get caught up in the cup final buzz.
Tanya Magowan, a member of the firm’s administration staff and a diehard Coleraine fan, explained why they decided to show their backing for Davy’s initiative and Oran Kearney’s blue and white army.
“One of our partners Alison Wallace suggested we did something and so we set about decorating our window. Obviously, I’m a Coleraine fan myself so I’m delighted we have shown our support in this way but it is also brilliant to see so many other businesses in the town all getting behind the club.”
Tanya’s colleague Paula Cauley added: “Once Alison suggested we did something to support Coleraine, we set about designing the window and my husband Kyle designed the decals on the windows. It has been amazing the interest they have generated from people walking past the office.”
At time of going to press, a limited number of tickets for the West Stand were still available for the big match from Coleraine FC.