Ballymena and Coleraine set for thunderous derby encounter

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Coleraine Showgrounds awaits the two sides

United head to the Ballycastle Road Showgrounds to take on the Bannsiders

James Nesbitt or Liam Neeson?  Andrew Trimble or David Humphries?  The River Bann or Seven Towers?  It will all be settled this Saturday when David Jeffrey takes his Sky Blues to face Oran Kearney's Bannsiders.

Jackie Fullerton on Ballymena's chances:

Ballymena failed to win a derby game last season and that's something David Jeffrey will be hoping to make a distant memory on Saturday.  The former Linfield boss is no stranger to heated rivalries, after all, he did oversee 17 years worth of Glentoran/Linfield match-ups. However he has limited experience of the A26 Derby

"I've never experienced it" said Jeffrey "but after stepping down from Linfield I made a point of going to derbies."  Ironically, he planned to join the spectators at this season's A26 derby, until being appointed Ballymena manager of course.  Jeffrey sees his side head into the game in good form, sitting third in the table

Ballymena Boss David Jeffrey:

"We've been making incremental steps" said Jeffrey "the players are working very hard, they're doing some things very well, there are some things they can do better."  This is a very different side from the Ballymena of last season, with 11 players joining Jeffrey's building process.  We are starting to see a 'David Jeffrey team' wearing Sky Blue now. "The players that I have at the minute are beginning to understand how we work"  said Jeffrey "not accepting anything less than the best."

Jeffrey on Ballymena's devlopment

Oran Kearney's Coleraine team are by no means in poor form.  After an inauspicious start to the season, the Bannsiders went on a five game unbeaten run, reaching the final of the North West Cup in the process.  A 1-0 defeat to Cliftonville at Solitude aside, Coleraine can take plenty of positives heading into Saturdays match with Ballymena.

The current Stripes side have plenty of character, coming back from 2-0 down, to draw with a very good Glenavon side last weekend.  "You need it [character]" said Oran Kearney "there's going to be setbacks and its important to have the mentality to rise to those challenges."

One thing the Bannsiders boss can count on is home support.  "its so important" said Kearney "home support can be like a 12th man on derby day, its important that we get all fans to the game."

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney:

Oran Kearny had plenty of praise for his young side. "A lot of our young players are really finding their feet" said Kearney "their experience is starting to show"  But Kearney also refuses to focus just on the rivalry with the Sky Blues.  As Oran says, there are three points at stake, not just bragging rights.

Kearney on character:


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