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Interview

OK: “We have to concentrate on a game of football”

COLERAINE boss Oran Kearney hopes that a ‘productive few weeks’ could prove to be the catalyst as the Bannsiders aim to reach the Irish Cup final…

For the first time March 7, the Stripes will return to action as they face Ballymena United at Windsor Park for a spot in Friday’s showpiece decider.

However, after watching his side feature in a couple behind closed doors friendlies, Kearney is hoping to lead his troops into a third Irish Cup final as Coleraine boss.

“Yes, we are absolutely looking forward to Monday night,” he said.

“It’s been a productive few weeks and to be fair the boys have come back in great shape and have worked hard.

“The quality of the behind closed doors games has been good as well and we have came through them all with no aches or pains.

“We are in a good place and looking forward to the semi-final.”

No fans will be in attendance on Monday evening and whilst Kearney admits it would have made for a spectacular occasion between the two clubs, he insists it will be the same atmosphere for both sets of players.

“It’ll be eerie and different without fans in the stadium,” he added.

“I suppose that was the reason behind the closed doors games, as even with a friendly you’ll have a couple of hundred there and everything else, but that side of it is something you have to get used to.

“However it is the same for both teams and we have to deal with it.

“It will be a strange experience even though it’s a derby.

“It’s about making sure we adjust quickly and concentrate on a game of football which is the most important thing.”

With the potential of two matches in the space of five days, Kearney only has eyes on Monday’s fixture and has refused to give up on Curtis Allen’s eligibility.

“We are still pursuing the availability of Curtis in line with Cliftonville’s argument that players shouldn’t be suspended because of COVID and if it wasn’t for the pandemic, then he would have been available for the semi-final,” Kearney concluded.

“From that point of view, we are in the same place and if something turns over in their favour, then we would expect the same for Curtis as well.

“We have nothing in plan after Monday’s game.

“The plan would be back in on Wednesday night to hopefully prepare for Friday’s final.

“However, that’s it and nothing more as the big task is to make sure we get through Monday.

“Hopefully we can do that and we will worry about what comes after that.”

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