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Coleraine well set for quest to stamp passport for Europe despite late notice of opponents, insists Oran Kearney


Oran Kearney has long been planning for the Play-Offs

Oran Kearney has long been planning for the Play-Offs

©INPHO/Brian Little

Oran Kearney has long been planning for the Play-Offs

Oran Kearney knows that it’s all about what his Coleraine team do as they chase a European place.

That’s because he only found out who they will be up against in Tuesday’s Semi-Final at 5pm yesterday — just 74 hours and 45 minutes before their most important game of the season.

Crusaders’ Irish Cup victory means that the Bannsiders will tackle Larne in the Play-Off as they chase down a spot in the Europa Conference League.

“By the time we knew who it was, we had finished all our training so it was just important that we got a good week in, bodies are fresh and minds are fresh ready for a big, big push,” said Kearney, who has led the club to Europe in four of the last five seasons.

A 3-2 victory over Glentoran in their last home Premiership game of the season is the only win the Bannsiders recorded in their final six matches.

All eyes, however, have been on the Play-Offs since their top-six place was secured, with an emphasis on making sure as many players in the squad as possible are fully prepared to go all out for the big prize of continental qualification.

Even losing to Linfield on the day the Blues were crowned Champions last Saturday has played a part in Kearney getting his team ready for the challenge that awaits.

“We had spoken before about making steps and making progress towards where we want to be come Play-Off time,” he said.

“I said when the split came that the five games we knew would be really good preparation for moving forward into the Play-Offs. That has been our big focus.

“Against Linfield in particular, with the atmosphere and everything that was at stake, we knew it was going to be right up there in relation to the test that it was going to be and how tough it was going to be.”

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