THE build-up to the big Ballymoney derby between Ballymoney United and Glebe Rangers - one of the most eagerly awaited games of the year - has begun already!
That’s because both sides have no competitive action ahead of their Saturday December 29 Belfast Telegraph Championship Two collision at the Riada Stadium.
But the teams are preparing in different ways.
John Fall has just been installed as the permanent manager at United and he is keen to use the time to get a look at the resources he has and he is planning a friendly game so he can run his eye over the personnel at his disposal.
However, over at Glebe, manager Peter Cairns - fresh from celebrating one year in the job - has turned down the offer of a friendly as he hopes to use the break to get all his players back to full fitness.
Both managers told the Times they are looking forward to the big end-of-year showdown but both revealed they have the utmost respect for each other and have nothing but friendly personal rivalry.
Both sides were knocked out of the Irish Cup on Saturday but the first result each boss sought afterwards was how the other Ballymoney side had done as they wanted to see the town represented in the next round when the ‘big boys’ from the Irish League come in.
And when John Fall was given the Ballymoney job on a permanent basis last week he received a good luck text from Cairns who has an association with Fall going back to their links through youth football in the town.
Looking towards the derby, John Fall said: “Our players will be well up for the Glebe match and hopefully it will be a good spectacle for the town. Myself and Peter get on well and respect each other and Glebe have a lot of good players. I’m looking forward to it.”
Following the defeat on penalties to Ballynahinch on Saturday Fall added: “I was disappointed for all the players who put in a lot of hard work in front of a very good support. The boys gave their all and Ballynahinch won it despite only creating two real chances in the 90 minutes.
“We were missing Steven Lyons who has been playing well but he failed a fitness test. Fair play to Ballynahinch they had nothing to lose but we had looked comfortable for long periods and created a lot of chances in extra-time.”
Cairns was appointed to the role as Glebe boss in December last year and twelve months on he revealed to the Times: “I am loving it. It is a really well organised club.”
Turning to the derby match, Peter said: “We are going well in the league and I am looking forward to this one.”