Oran Kearney happy with the progress his Coleraine side have made in the last eight weeks as he plots first win in the European play-offs

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Coleraine boss Oran Kearney is hoping the fact several of his key stars have played less games this season will leave them fresh ahead of this evening's European play-off semi-final against Glentoran.

The Bannsiders travel to The Oval aiming to win an end-of-season European play-off for the very first time after four successive defeats at the semi-final stage.

Coleraine have been littered with injuries throughout the campaign but rallied in the New Year to secure a top-six berth ahead of Carrick Rangers.

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However, the men from the north coast will now look to qualify for Europe and make more memories on the continent under Kearney's guidance.

Oran Kearney is hoping his side can win a European play-off tie for the very first time as they travel to Glentoran this eveningOran Kearney is hoping his side can win a European play-off tie for the very first time as they travel to Glentoran this evening
Oran Kearney is hoping his side can win a European play-off tie for the very first time as they travel to Glentoran this evening

"I suppose when you analyse it all and look at the different ways in which we've landed or got our way in there...sometimes we have been rattled with injuries or sometimes punch-drunk in relation to the games we've played," said Kearney on his side's play-off record.

"It will be interesting to see how we go this time because a lot of our seasons are generally the opposite where for three quarters of it we have been good and solid with the same bodies week in and week out.

"My memories of a few of the play-offs has seen us patched up and nearly running out of steam by that stage.

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"Fingers crossed we do have a lot of players numbers wise that haven't played the same number of games they usually play by this stage of the season, so hopefully that will stand us in good stead."

Coleraine drew two, won one and lost two of their post-split fixtures and had previously clocked up eight games without a loss before a home defeat to Crusaders in the middle of April.

With that in mind, Kearney remarked how he has been pleased with the progress his side have shown in the last two months.

He added: "The split in this scenario can be quite tricky and tough where you're trying to navigate your way through that with a different mindset to Larne and Linfield who were chasing the title.

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"For the rest of us, maybe bar Cliftonville who are saving themselves for a cup final, our agenda is slightly different where we all know we had work to do from the way the season had gone and we had work to do into players who maybe hadn't played the volumes of games they would have at this stage of the season.

"With that all in, the last six to eight weeks has been massively important for us and probably the most important stage of the season to make sure we get people ticking over and in the right frame of mind physically and mentally to be ready to hit these games.

"I'm happy we are there and I'm happy with the progress we've made in those eight weeks.

"Saturday at Larne wasn't ideal and it was a scenario we didn't want to find ourselves in. Due to the league not being technically over, we had to go and field a team in a way we were looking after people because we had to be wary that Wednesday night was just around the corner."

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