COLERAINE’S European dreams were dashed on the final day of the season as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat away at Crusaders.
For the third time this season the Crues put a dampener on the Bannsiders big day. But if truth be told Coleraine just never got going and looked very anxious throughout.
Looking at the big picture though the club has made another giant leap forward this season, and it was fantastic going into the final game with such a big prize at stake.
This this was not lost on boss Oran Kearney at the end.
“Everyone is obviously disappointed with the defeat, but we can’t let the mourning go on too long,” he said after the game.
“It’s been a long season and everyone’s looking forward to a bit of a break and recharging the batteries ready for starting again in June.
“We’ve been delighted with the progress we’ve made this season, but when you end on a bit of a negative note it can be easy to forget the good things. There have been plenty of highlights and we’ve an awful lot to be proud of and it gives us a great foundation to build on next season.
“The big thing next season is that we won’t have such a summer of transition. Last year a lot of players came and went but this year we’ll have the continuity to build on.”
The Bannsiders struggled to find their rhythm at Seaview against a determined home side who still have two cup finals to play.
A few half chances were missed in the first half, but Coleraine never really troubled 17-year-old keeper Jack McCrae.
The game burst into life with 15 minutes to go as Jordan Owens gave his side the lead. Stevie Lowry scored a controversial equaliser four minutes later and it looked as though Kearney’s men might just do it.
But Ryan McCann’s free kick on 86 minutes put paid to those dreams,” said the Bannsiders boss.
“It is a bit devastating to miss out especially when you have it within your grasp.
“There have been numerous occasions over the last six or seven games when it looked like it was out of sight for us, but we fought back to give ourselves a real chance of it.
“So the players deserve a lot of credit for that, but today was disappointing for us.
“We didn’t do enough to win the game plain and simple. When we equalised we had a wee bit of momentum, but up until that point we definitely hadn’t done enough to win it.
“We knew it was going to be a tense occasion and although we created quite a few decent half chances, it just seemed to be one of those days where things just didn’t fall for us. We were very edgy and we were crying out for someone with a bit of experience and composure to calm the situation.”