Oran Kearney knew his Coleraine side would be in for a tough afternoon against Cliftonville on Saturday.
Not just because they were coming up against their nearest challengers for third place, but also because he had to get his team’s feet back on the ground after last week’s highs in the Irish Cup semi final.
The Bannsiders boss is determined his players keep their focus on the job in hand with third place and guaranteed European football the carrot dangling in front of them.
“After the highs of last week it is hard to get the heads back on and focus on the job in hand, we saw that in the first half,” said Kearney.
“We freshened up and we trained well during the week to get it out of the legs, but it is still difficult to get going again.
“It was exactly the same in the game after the 4-0 win over Ballymena United in the quarter final.
“We were a bit lethargic, but once you get in at half time and get going again you become a different beast in the second half.
“From my experiences over the years a lot of the games have been like that.
“But I fancied if we got in at 0-0 at the break then we would go on and win the game.”
And so it proved as after an under par first 45 minutes the Bannsiders kicked it up a notch after the break.
A brace for wide man Darren McCauley secured the points to stretch the home side’s lead over the Reds to five points.
“Darren epitomises what’s good about us as a club,” enthused Kearney.
“He’s fresh, he loves his football and he just looked a kid out there today having so much fun. Darren is such a talent and he has development into a real top class player over the last few years with us.
“I think Skinner is claiming the first one came off him, but the second there is no doubt about.
“It was a great pass by Darren, great acceleration, and a lovely weighted pass from Adam Mullan back into his path and a great finish from Darren.
“The second goal was nice to get for the cushion more than anything else.”
Cliftonville boss Gerard Lyttle admitted he was disappointed with his side’s second half showing, but was als quick to praise the Bannsiders.
“Coleraine are a good team and are in form and you can see why,” he said.
“They have players who are fighting for each other, and when you get that workrate and belief from a team then they are always going to be in games and win more than they lose.We have to get to that stage.
“I fancied ourselves coming up here today, but we let ourselves down in the second half, it was really poor.”