Oran Kearney delighted as fans pitch in to help Coleraine development bid

Coleraine manager Oran Kearney. 'Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Lorcan Doherty
Coleraine manager Oran Kearney. 'Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Lorcan Doherty

Oran Kearney has big plans for Coleraine on and off the pitch at The Showgrounds.

The Ballymoney man, who returned to the club in the summer after a season with St Mirren, is determined to build on the current squad to challenge for honours again.

But he knows that job will be even tougher given the financial boost gained by Linfield, Crusaders, Cliftonville and Ballymena United given their excellent European results.

And then there is the rise of Larne and the cash investment into Glentoran.

Kearney knows the Bannsiders have to try and compete with these teams on and off the pitch.

One of the big plans is to install a 4G pitch at The Showgrounds by the start of next season.

A working group of board members and fans has been formed to help raise funds for the project, which Kearney says ‘has to happen’.

“This can’t be a possibility, it has to happen, we’re all in agreement.

“That’s why I’m glad it’s out there because it has to happen and it will happen

“With everything that’s been spoken about other teams, where they’re going and finances and everything else, we can’t afford to be left behind.

“It’s hugely important for us - what we can gain and what we can save, and to give the club a real foundation to move forward in the next few years.

“There’s so many good people around here, who love the club so much, and are adamant that they would to do as much as possible to make this happen.

“There’s going to be a lot of hard work needed, there going be a lot of fundraising and everything else that goes with that. This has to happen.”

On the field it has been a decent enough start for the Bannsiders, but it could have been so much better.

Twice in their opening two games they have been pegged back late on to deny them the win.

So instead of sitting on six points, Kearney’s men are sitting on two.

Coleraine will now be without James McLaughlin for today’s visit to Linfield after his sending off against Glentoran, which led to them throwing away their two-goal lead at The Oval in midweek.

“It is simple, if that challenge did not happen tonight we see the game out quite smoothly in my opinion,” said Kearney.

“The red card gives them a lift and, to be fair, the free kick was a cracking effort and that ignites it even more.

“Then all of a sudden it was backs to the wall like The Alamo and you are wondering how the game transpired into that which is the disappointing thing for us.

“James is one of those players who plays on the edge. He has a few yellow cards in him, but we have spoken to him about that.

“That side to him exists but for a striker, particularly in the box, it is important for him to have that edge but he has a responsibility to the fans and his team mates to make sure he uses his aggression in the right way,

“We have to dust ourselves down, there is a lot of disappointment in the dressing room after Tuesday night and last Saturday’s result.

“It comes down to fine margins because we could have easily been sitting here with six points but the reality is that we have two.

“The key thing is that we have to go and put that right on Saturday.”

While Coleraine have been frustrated champions Linfield have picked up where they left off last season.

They have made a superb impact on the Europa League qualifiers, and are remarkably one game away from the group stages.

Boss David Healy though is determined to keep his side focused on the job in hand.

“If we don’t show them the respect they deserve - if we switch off or think we’re only playing Coleraine off the back of a couple of really tough games in Europe - then Coleraine will punish us,” Healy told the BBC.

“They have two or three of their injured players from last season back and I’m sure Oran will look forward to coming back to Windsor Park on the back of some positive results he has had here.

“I look forward to welcoming Oran back but it will be a tough game - Coleraine always give us a difficult game at Windsor Park,” he added.