Belfast Telegraph

Big Two is still a massive deal for Glentoran boss Alan Kernaghan

By Stuart McKinley

Alan Kernaghan knows enough about Big Two derbies to make him certain that the level of intensity will never drop when Belfast's biggest rivals meet.

Tomorrow's battle between Linfield and Glentoran at Windsor Park pitches second against sixth, rather than being a blockbuster that could dictate the destination of the title at the end of the season.

Kernaghan, who paid in to watch the first meeting of the teams this season before becoming Glens boss and taking his place in the dugout on Boxing Day, is in no doubt that the derby day temperature won't dip just because this one isn't a winner-takes-all clash.

"These games are passionate affairs and they are the nearest thing to the games in England and Scotland that I have been involved in, in terms of the size of the crowd and the atmosphere," said Kernaghan.

"The rivalry is healthy and these type of matches are good for the game - as they are throughout the world.

"That rivalry and intensity doesn't change depending on where the teams are placed in the league.

"Yes, if the two teams are involved in the title race then it adds something, but I expect everything that surrounds it to be exactly the same."

When he was appointed at The Oval in mid-November, Kernaghan declared that he wanted to shake up the title race and make the Glens a challenging force again.

As he has grown into the job those targets have changed - partly because of his team's stuttering form and partly due to the nature of the league.

"I have been frustrated by our lack of consistency," said Kernaghan.

"I have been in the job four months now and we haven't had a draw yet.

"It baffles me. We're either Pele or smelly.

"We haven't been able to win more than two games on the trot and we haven't lost any more than three in-a-row.

"It's frustrating because I can see the quality that is in there and how we have been on our day, but then with exactly the same preparation and saying the same things to the players we can go out and be totally different.

"The one thing I have learned though is that there is not much between any of the teams."

The Blues have former Glentoran defender Jimmy Callacher and striker Paul Smyth suspended, but goalkeeper Ross Glendinning is available after sitting out last week's Irish Cup win at Cliftonville.

The Glens are without Steven Gordon, who serves a ban. As does promising youngster Patrick Cafolla, who has made half-a-dozen appearances since Kernaghan took charge.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph