Glenavon star Kevin Braniff has predicted a ‘cauldron atmosphere’ when the Lurgan Blues clash with Linfield in the Tennent’s Irish Cup final on Saturday afternoon.
A bumper crowd of 12,000 fans is expected to descend on Windsor Park for the end-of-season showpiece (2.30pm kick-off).
A titanic battle is anticipated between two of the Premiership’s top three sides this season.
Linfield finished runners-up to champions Crusaders, with Glenavon securing third spot and European qualification.
Braniff – who scored FOUR goals in Glenavon’s semi-final victory over Crusaders – believes the stakes couldn’t be any higher going into this Irish Cup decider.
“The Irish Cup final is always massive, but the fact that there is a sold-out crowd has made it spicier,” Braniff said.
“It will be an atmosphere not seen for quite a few years. Linfield always bring a big crowd, because they are such a big club.
“And Glenavon’s fans have been superb in the past few years.
“It is something the players will relish.”
Braniff – who this week signed a new contract with Glenavon – was part of the Portadown side that lost the 2010 Irish Cup final to Linfield.
Despite scoring, Braniff couldn’t stop the Blues from claiming a 2-1 victory.
“I have played in one final and lost it, so that is an experience I don’t want to repeat,” the versatile forward said.
“I remember watching the Linfield team going up and collecting their winner’s medals, and just feeling awful.
“There is nothing worse than losing an Irish Cup final, so hopefully on Saturday I can enjoy the other side and lift the trophy.”