Oran Kearney is gearing up for a ‘monster tie’ at Showgrounds

Coleraine fought out a 2-2 draw with Cliftonville 10 days ago
Coleraine fought out a 2-2 draw with Cliftonville 10 days ago

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney has described Tuesday’s Irish Cup replay with Cliftonville as a “monster tie”.

The two clubs fought out a thrilling 2-2 draw at Solitude on January 11, with Davy McDaid bagging a superb equaliser to force this replay at the Showgrounds.

It is a fifth round showdown to whet the appetite, with the winners progressing to meet Dungannon Swifts in the last 16.

Kearney is hoping his side can continue building momentum following an encouraging couple of weeks.

The Bannsiders are now unbeaten in their last four outings, including their stalemate at Solitude.

Despite welcoming the mini-revival, Kearney insists there is no time for any let-up as they look to keep their Irish Cup hopes alive and kicking.

“We have to be ready to go again on Tuesday night,” Kearney said.

“We have to go and perform once again. We have raised the bar recently and we have to keep on raising it.

“If we don’t, then we will have no chance, but if we do then we have a chance of progressing.”

Coleraine earned a spirited Premiership point against Glentoran at the weekend, while Cliftonville’s title defence suffered a knock with a 1-0 defeat to Portadown.

Kearney expects a backlash from the Reds, who also have a League Cup final to come later this week.

“Cliftonville are coming off a defeat, and it is a big week for them with the League Cup final on Saturday,” Kearney added.

“I am sure it isn’t ideal for Tommy (Breslin) and his players, having a game so close to the final.

“But I am sure he will stress the importance of the Irish Cup to those players, and I am sure they will come here determined to book their place in the next round.

“It is a monster tie which we have to reach the heights in.”

Reflecting on their recent revival, Kearney added: “It has been a very encouraging couple of weeks for us, and it is all down to the players. They deserve all the credit.

“Their work ethic and attitude have lifted greatly, and some of that is down to the new players coming in.

“I have always said that if we perform, then we have a chance against any side. Again, we proved thaton Saturday, and if we had been more ruthless against Glentoran we could have come away with a bigger lift.”

Coleraine will be without striker Eoin Bradley who is suspended for the tie.

Loan signing Joe McNeill is also missing as he cannot play against his parent club.

On a more positive note, midfielder Stephen Lowry is nearing and return and will start from the bench on Tuesday night.

“Stephen is doing well and he is slowly building his fitness up,” Kearney said.

“But we will take our time with him. He should start from the bench, and we will take things from there.”