IRISH LEAGUE: Glentoran boss Alan Kernaghan is already eyeing up Europa League play-offs

Marcus Kane scores the opener at Solitude
Marcus Kane scores the opener at Solitude

As Alan Kernaghan toasted Glentoran’s victory at Solitude on Saturday, both he and Cliftonville counterpart Gerard Lyttle admitted a necessity to deviate from their standard ‘one game at a time’ mentality.

While both stressed that their next fixtures were top priorities, neither denied that the forthcoming Europa League play-offs were almost as high on the agenda, especially given that no side yet has any cast-iron guarantees over who they’ll face in next month’s money-spinning shoot-out.

The Glens are almost certain to tackle Coleraine – with home advantage determined by which side finishes highest in the Danske Bank Premiership standings – and Kernaghan revealed he’s been doing plenty of homework on the Bannsiders.

“We’ve played them twice in the last few weeks, so that will have been a help,” he said.

“We’ve had them watched again today and we’ll keep doing everything we can to ensure we’re as prepared as we possibly can be when the game comes around.

“That sort of thing is going on in the background all the time, with little bits of research being added to what we’ve already got and what we already know about them.

“Our target at the minute is to catch them in the league and we’re only three points behind now, so we’ve made pretty good ground.

“First and foremost, you have to perform in every match as it comes along and I was very pleased with how we did against Cliftonville.”

Second-half goals from Marcus Kane and Curtis Allen stretched Glentoran’s unbeaten run to five, further contributing to the momentum they have generated as the play-offs approach.

“We’re doing well, we’re in good form and we want to keep that going. Cliftonville gave us a few problems in the first-half but I think a lot of those were down to mistakes we made ourselves but, once we settled down and started to play our football, we did very well,” Kernaghan added.

Meanwhile, Lyttle was frustrated not only with his team’s inability to take the host of chances which came their way in the first-half, but also with the nature of the Glens’ opening goal.

“Defending set-pieces, and especially corners, have been our Achilles heel,” he said.

“We’ve not dealt with high balls into our box time and time again this season, but it’s something we work on in training all the time.”