Coleraine's young stars ready for next step
Oran Kearney has no doubt his young charges will rise to the occasion when they line out against Glenavon later this evening.
The majority of the Coleraine team are bidding to reach their first senior cup final.
But the Bannsiders boss feels they have enough experience behind them to finish the job.
“I made my Irish League debut at 22 yet most of our boys are approaching 100 appearances and they are only 20 or 21,” he said.
“It’s hard to call them a young team because we’re not really, we are full of good young players.
“The crop we have at this time have the potential to go really far in the game.
“It’s our privilege to guide them through the first few years of that and hopefully the next few years as well.
“The distance they can go in the game is up to them.
“It’s our job to keep tabs on them and make sure the senior lads and everyone else looks after them.
“None of them step out of line, they all know their place, but they all have the hunger and desire to do well.”
Opponents Glenavon are aiming to make it three Irish Cup finals in four years, Kearney though is determined to take the game to them, just like they did last week against Crusders when they stretched their unbeaten run to 14 games.
The Bannsiders also dispatched the Lurgan Blues recently during to rack up some impressive statistics, but Kearney isn’t getting carried away.
“Stats are stats and I honestly don’t worry too much about them because every time you turn up for a game it’s a new script and a new day,” he said.
“We have learnt, in this season in particular, to go and fight fire with fire.
“I thought our energy levels across the pitch over the 90 minutes against Crusaders was fantastic.
“To beat the champions on any day you have to be right up there because you know what they will bring to all aspects of the game.
“And we will have to produce the same against Glenavon if we are to make it to the final.”
One payer who is sure to play a key role at Ballymena Showgrounds is goalkeeper Chris Johns.
The stopper was magnificent against the Crues last week, and he is relishing being involved in another big game this weekend.
“There’s a great buzz about the place,” said Chris, whose father Paddy played rugby for Ireland.
“The fans are really getting behind us - you can feel it when you walk out on to the pitch.
“We’ve got a great winning mentality and we have a lot of momentum, we are on a fantastic run.
“There is no negativity in that dressing room, it’s positive vibes all round. It’s a matter of keep that run going, especially with the Irish Cup semi final coming up,” added Johns.