Larne boss Davy McAlinden says his side are relishing the prospect of locking horns with rivals Carrick Rangers in what promises to be a captivating Irish Cup fifth-round showdown at Inver Park.
Third in the Championship, Larne are the second tier’s surprise package this term and they’ll be keen to send their neighbours packing tomorrow afternoon.
Carrick may not have kicked a ball since their Christmas Day Steel and Sons Cup final success, but Gary Haveron’s charges are a side brimming with confidence. The Taylor’s Avenue outfit have lost just twice this season and one of those defeats came away to Cliftonville in the League Cup.
With both teams in such positive form, the East Antrim derby has all the ingredients of what should be a fiercely competitive encounter.
“It’s going to be a tough game, it’s a big derby match and playing in the Irish Cup is always a special occasion,” said McAlinden.
“Hopefully we can use home and advantage and keep playing the way we have been playing. We go into the match full of confidence and we’re really looking forward to it.”
The former defender, who captained Carrick to the Championship title in 2011, is aware of the threat Haveron’s men pose, but insists his focus is on preparing his players for the knockout clash.
“Carrick are an experienced side. They have guys who have played in the Premiership and they know what it takes to win matches at our level,” he said. “They showed that in the Steel Cup final when they were very impressive winners against the Welders.
“Gary has got them playing how he wants them to in terms of getting the ball forward and working off the forwards. But we’ll not be too worried about them; all we want to do is what we have done all season and that’s concentrate on ourselves and we’ll see where that takes us.”
He added: “It’s an Irish Cup day. It’s a derby day and we’re not going to have much more cause for appetite than one of these games.”