Belfast Telegraph

Kernaghan is hoping Glens can secure a Euro windfall

By Stuart McKinley

Alan Kernaghan has pointed to 160,000 reasons for his Glentoran players to be motivated for a game that could have a major impact on the club's immediate future.

The Glens boss is determined to get his hands on the £160,000 jackpot that awaits the winners of the Danske Bank Premiership's first European play-off - and he doesn't care how the east Belfast men do it.

Kernaghan signed an 18-month contract when he stepped into the manager's job at The Oval back in November and he is honest enough to admit that whether or not he nets a European windfall will have an impact on how he approaches the start of his first full season in charge.

The 49-year-old has been working with an inherited squad and banking the guaranteed £160,000 from Europa League qualification, with the chance to double that by making the second round, would enable him to further put his own stamp on the team.

"The incentives are all financial and the chance for the players to play in Europe," said Kernaghan ahead of tonight's trip to Coleraine, with the winners facing Cliftonville at Solitude in the £160,000 game on Tuesday night.

"The income from qualifying for Europe would enable us to strengthen a bit more. As well as that, for the history and the size of the club, European football is something that we want to be part of year in, year out.

"It's all about getting through these games, it doesn't matter how you do it as long as you win."

Neither team enter the game in particularly great form. The Glens have lost three in a row, while Coleraine's 3-0 win over Cliftonville last Saturday came after picking up just a single point in their previous seven matches.

There is little doubt that at least part of the reason for that is the players - and probably the managers too - have had one eye on the play-offs as it has been known for some time that Coleraine and the Glens would be there. And that they would likely go head-to-head.

The play-offs have, however, given teams not involved in the title race meaningful games in the final weeks of the season. Otherwise, with nothing at stake, players could have gone through the motions and that's not what fans pay their money to see.

"We've known since before the split that we would be in the play-off and our aim then was to get something positive out of the season," said Kernaghan.

"We wanted to try to build up a head of steam in the closing games, but we haven't been able to do that in the last couple.

"I think the of the European play-off is a good move. It has brought excitement to the end of the season and it has given teams outside of that top bracket something to play for in the final weeks of the season."

Kernaghan has the injured Stephen Gordon missing from tonight's game, while Marcus Kane is suspended.

Should the Glens get through they will also have to do without Kane, as well as Calum Birney, Chris Morrow and Jonathan Smith who have one-match suspensions kicking in on Monday.

Belfast Telegraph


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