It’ll be eerie without fans admits Coleraine boss Oran Kearney

Oran Kearney has been involved in some massive games both as a player and a a manager down the years.

By Steven Crawford
Monday, 27th July 2020, 4:51 pm
Updated Monday, 27th July 2020, 4:54 pm
Coleraine boss Oran Kearney
Coleraine boss Oran Kearney

The Coleraine boss has thrived in some electric atmospheres and fully appreciates the value of the supporters to get you over the line.

Today’s Irish Cup semi-final against derby rivals Ballymena United should have been a real powder keg with not only local pride at stake, but also a place in the showpiece final.

However, as with most things, football has changed since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

We are fortunate to have any football played this season, but it has come at a cost with no fans allowed to attend the semi-finals.

Kearney knows it will be something very different for his players to experience, but he admits both teams will have to get on with it.

“It’ll be eerie and different without fans in the stadium,” said the Bannsiders boss.

“I suppose that was the reason behind the closed doors game, 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 concentrating on a game of football which is the most important thing.”

Ironically the last game Coleraine played was against the Sky Blues some 142 days ago. Kearney’s men came out on top 2-0 that day against a United side who had been struggling to hit the heights of the previous season.

Kearney though is expecting a completely different test from the old foes today especially with his old mentor directing things.

“They will bring everything you would expect from a David Jeffrey side,” he said.

“They had a cracking season last year and deservedly so. You can make any excuse you want, but in my opinion the injuries they have had have made it very, very tough for them.

“I’m sure they will have players available who may not have been for the original semi-final date, so the slate is fresh for them.”

It’s Coleraine’s fourth Irish Cup semi-final in a row and they are eyeing more silverware after lifting the League Cup earlier this term.

“As well as we have done in the League and the League Cup, it was so long ago now that it doesn’t really matter and I don’t think it will have any impact on the semi-final,” he said.

“The important thing is that we are ready to go and we treat it as the one-off that it is.

“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.”

Kearney is also hoping for an eleventh hour reprieve for Curtis Allen, who has fallen foul of the original game being postponed.

He said: “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.”

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