Irish Premiership: Coleraine manager Kearney preparing for another 'cup final'

Eoin Bradley was on target as Coleraine beat Ballymena 2-0 in March
Eoin Bradley was on target as Coleraine beat Ballymena 2-0 in March

Title-chasing Coleraine are "walking from one cup final to another at this point", according to their manager Oran Kearney, as they prepare to host derby rivals Ballymena United on Saturday.

The Bannsiders trail league leaders Crusaders on goal difference with three games remaining for both clubs.

"It's great to have the hype around the games that there is," said Kearney.

"For years at this club at this stage of the season you were thinking about holidays and pre-season next year."

Coleraine drew level with Stephen Baxter's side on points last week by virtue of their last-gasp 2-1 comeback win over Cliftonville, combined with Crusaders' 1-1 draw at home to Glenavon.

Kearney's men have only lost one of their 35 Premiership outings to date during this campaign, a sequence which the Ballycastle Road boss says has given them great confidence.

"I've been urging the boys to keep looking after our own business and hang in there. For us to have made up the five-point margin Crusaders had over us is phenomenal.

"We have never doubted ourselves - there is serious belief in that changing room and it has grown in the last few years.

"We don't get ahead of ourselves and we have a real good bunch of lads. We have total belief and we will try to pick up another three points against Ballymena."

Crusaders 'will give it everything'

Crusaders host outgoing champions Linfield at Seaview, with Baxter promising the team's supporters that they will be "giving it everything we possibly have in the locker".

"We'll have a right good go at it and see where it takes us. We are enjoying every minute of it," said Baxter, whose outfit are chasing a third championship success in four seasons.

"If we play like we can on our home pitch we'll be hard to beat but you can never take anything for granted. All the teams in the top six are very, very good and you don't get anything easy.

"In each of the last five seasons we have put ourselves in a position to challenge for titles and for a club of our size to be doing that is phenomenal."

In the day's other Section A fixture, Cliftonville entertain Glenavon as they continue to battle with Linfield for the third position which may guarantee Europa League qualification.

In Section B, bottom club Ballinamallard are at home to Dungannon Swifts as they aim to reduce their two-point deficit to Carrick Rangers above them in the table.

Carrick face Ards at Taylor's Avenue and Warrenpoint Town play Glentoran at Milltown.

Danske Bank Premiership - Saturday 14 April - 15:00 BST kick-offs
Coverage on BBC Radio Ulster's Sportsound and text commentary on the BBC Sport website
ColerainevBallymena Utd
Ballinamallard UnitedvDungannon Swifts
Carrick RangersvArds
Warrenpoint TownvGlentoran