Young guns are firing

Gary Browne goes close with an effort in the opening minutes. ''photo:Derek Simpson
Gary Browne goes close with an effort in the opening minutes. ''photo:Derek Simpson

There’s a definite air of optimism around Coleraine Showgrounds at the minute following their recent run of results.

Saturday’s 2-1 win over Glenavon, the Bannsiders first home league win of the season, signalled a big turn around since the start of the month.

Stephen Douglas celebrates a great Coleraine performance. photo:Derek Simpson

Stephen Douglas celebrates a great Coleraine performance. photo:Derek Simpson

Crusaders 6-2 at The Showgrounds on September 2nd left Coleraine lurching towards the foot of the table.

But since then perfromances have improved and the wins have stated coming.

The last three games in particular have saw Oran Kearney’s men pick up six points, and they were very unlucky not to make it nine from nine.

Kearney praised his young charges following Saturday’s victory, but he pointed out it’s a work in progress.

“Obviously we’ve lost the likes of Stevie Lowry and Davy McDaid, who would walk into any team in the league, but the likes of Adam Mullan has come through, Darren McCauley has come in along with Shane McGinty and Ian Parkhill,” he told Times Sport.

“When you add those four guys in against teams of the quality of Cliftonville, Ballymena and Glenavon then you have to be ecstatic with the progress those guys are making and how they look like they want to etch out a career at this level.

“If we can produce the performances we have done over the last three weeks then we’ll cause any team problems. There have been other times like the Crusaders night when we didn’t do what we have done in recent weeks, and that can be the other side of it with a young, inexperienced squad.

“It’s finding that happy medium, these guys are all finding their feet and yo have to accept you are going to get ups and downs. You’re not going to get 40 games like that out of them this season.

“But when we get good performances like today then it’s important we pick up the three points.

“The last 10 minutes we brought on the likes of ‘Hegsy’ to give us that wee bit of guile and see the game out.

“That’s our third really good performance in a row. If we keep taking care of the simple things that gives us a performance which creates chances, it gives us a good chance of winning games.

“When you don’t perform, as we’ve found out to our cost at times, then teams can really hurt you in this league.

“I think our performance today hit the heights of last week and also the week before at Cliftonville. With that it gives us a really good chance of winning games as we do create chances, and sooner or later you hope you can take them.”

Kearney was delighted with the defensive qualities his side showed to see out the game.

Particularly as captain Howard Beverland was rulled out with injury. But Stephen Douglas and David Ogilby along with fullbacks Aaron Canning and Adam Mullan stood up to the test, even after Glenavon had emptied their bench.

“You’re always on edge when they throw on players of that calibre,” Kearney said.

“Ciaran Martyn in particular has a knack of scoring against us. He makes great third man runs and becomes another striker at times.

“Again though I thought we dealt with it very well. I have to give Stephen Douglas a special mention on his 37th birthday, his performances this season have been phenomenal.

“Obviously we know what Eoin is about, he has lots of qualities, which he has shown already this season with Glenavon.

Adam Mullan made a tremendous tackle to deny him when he went through one-on-one late on, those are the wee things which make the difference.

“David has been with us for a long time and is a very experienced player and I would expect him to step in and produce a performance like he did today.

“Fair play to him he come straight in and produced an excellent performance.”

In the end it was top scorer Neil McCafferty who won the game for the Bannsiders as he followed up his first half strike with a penalty just before the hour mark.

It was the midfielder’s second successful spot kick, and Kearney said there was never any doubt in his mind that McCafferty would do the business once again.

“It’s a nice feeling knowing Neil is stepping up to hit the penalty, he’s a top player and you expect him to be able to deal with that,” said the Bannsiders boss.

“He hit a similar one to win us the game at Solitude and it was another good penalty to win us the game again today.

“Both him and Ruairi Harkin have weighed in with goals already this season, Darren McCauley has yet to open his account, but he has threatened in recent weeks, Shane McGinty the same, added with Gary Browne and Ian Parkhill, who have done well leading the line.

“That front six can all chip in with goals.

“We have to make sure we keep building on this now and keep the performances and results going, particularly as we have a few tricky away ties coming up during this month.”