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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Steven Crawford

Coleraine and Cliftonville praised for taking the fight to full-time clubs

Oran Kearney says Coleraine and Cliftonville deserve a huge amount of credit for making this season's Irish League title races one of the tightest ever.

Only six points separate the Reds in first place with the Bannsiders down in fifth.

Sandwiched in between are three of the league's full-time sides - Linfield, Larne and Crusaders.

Read next: Former Linfield and Glentoran star calls time on 20-year career in the game

And Kearney feels the part-time outfits deserve so much credit for keeping pace with the big hitters.

"I've been about the league for a long time and every year we say this season has the hallmarks to be the best ever," said the Bannsiders boss after his side's 2-2 draw with the league leaders on Saturday.

"It keeps doing that and at the end of every year you wonder how it could get any tighter, but it keeps doing it.

"I have to say fair play to ourselves and Cliftonville because we're the part-time teams and we're hanging in there with the full-time teams at this moment in time.

"This is tighter than I ever remember in the last five or six years.

"That is a huge credit to everyone, but as I say especially to Cliftonville and ourselves given the infrastructure and everything else the other teams have."

Kearney clearly enjoyed the battle with Cliftonville on Saturday as his charges fought back from two goals down to earn a share of the spoils.

There was plenty of edge in the game with no quarter asked or given, and the Coleraine boss admitted he was excited in anticipation of the clash.

"We are in good form, Cliftonville are in good form and I was excited all week for this one," said Kearney.

"Games like this are what it's all about.

"I'm not saying I'm not excited every week, but you can wait for games like this, and it probably proved it as it was a real ding-dong."


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