COLERAINE Rugby Club is gearing up for the most eagerly anticipated cup final for many years.
On Easter Tuesday all roads will lead to the home of Ulster rugby at Ravenhill for the final of the Crawford Cup and a mighty local derby between Coleraine and Ballymoney Seconds. Based on league performances there is little to choose between the two sides but their third meeting this season will decide which takes home the coveted prize.
Coleraine coaches Mark Giffin and John Boyd have been hard at work to ensure their squad is as fit and well prepared as possible. They now face the unenviable task of selecting the 20-man squad for the big game.
Speaking after Saturday’s hard wrought 15-5 victory over Banbridge John said: “This is a dream final for the area, a Coleraine and Ballymoney derby.
“We are looking forward to the big day, especially coming after last year when we lost out to Armagh in the final. We learnt a lot that day
“We have a lot of new faces in the squad this time round but we still have quite a few from the last time and we have that experience to fall back on.
“We have also had a good league run this season and we have only lost three times. I hope we can now produce the performance we deserve.
“We want to go out there, play good rugby and enjoy the occasion. We deserve a good performance to cap the great play and commitment we have produced all season
“We have played Ballymoney twice this season. They are a good team, just below us in the league, in third, and they are up for it in the final. We will have to match that.
“They have a heavier pack but we have a young team and our style is a more expansive game. So long as we get our heads together on the day we can win.
“We can guarantee one thing. With both Coleraine and Ballymoney in the final it will be a great, entertaining game of rugby.”
Mark Giffin has also put a lot of work into the team this year. He said: “What a workout against Banbridge today and although we picked up some knocks in the game it will stand us in good stead. We also had a 23-22 win over Carrick mid week and that was just as hard fought.
“We have some big choices to make in selection but we will be sticking with the regular side to start. Ballymoney will take it to us in the pack but our own pack is much more mobile.
“Last year we lost out to Armagh in the Crawford Cup final and about 70 percent of this year’s team were there. That sort of experience could stand us well.
“We know what it is like to leave without the cup and we don’t want that again this year. On the day we play in red as we are deemed to be the home team but that won’t affect us.
“We have the utmost respect for Ballymoney and we know each other’s game. They are rivals and we did well to beat them already this season. Now we want to do that again.”
Mark made a special call for support: “We are getting the team as ready as possible and now we want to have as much support as possible. We want all club members to come along and bring their family friends and relations.
“Let’s have a massive show of support and a lot of noise to spur us on. Buses will be going from the club and names should be added to the list behind the bar.
“Win, lose or draw it will be a great Easter day out and whichever club takes the trophy home will have a real feel good factor to enjoy during the summer. Come and cheer us on.”
Club president Willie Duffin is looking forward to the game. He said: “On behalf of all the members of Coleraine I wish the Seconds every success against Ballymoney in the final. It is great for rugby in both areas.
“I will be supporting Coleraine but more importantly may we have a safe and enjoyable game of rugby and may the best team win on the day.”
The game kicks off at Ravenhill in Belfast on Tuesday, 10 April, 2012, at 2.30pm. Come along and enjoy one of the matches of the season.