The forward who previously had spells in the top division with Linfield and Ballymena, has certainly found his form with Coleraine FC.
McLaughlin was on target for the Bannsiders on Saturday in their 1-1 draw with Crusaders. He turned the ball home from six yards midway through the second “The move was a massive step for me,” said James. “There had been chat about me making the move over last summer but I didn’t really expect anything to come from it. Then there was some more chat so I started to think about things and started putting in extra training to get myself in shape. I actually started my pre-season training six weeks before anyone else.”
The rigorous training paid off for the 23-year old forward who lives in Mosside, as he shed over a stone in weight and his commitment and dedication was enough to impress Coleraine boss Oran Kearney. “I then got the call from Oran asking me if I would like to sign which of course I did. I felt quite comfortable going along to Coleraine at the start because I knew quite a few of the lads and I feel I have fitted in well.”
McLaughlin, hit the ground running when he scored a dramatic winner against Glentoran on his debut.
“I couldn’t have wished for a better start. It was good to get off to a good start for both the club and the fans. Coleraine is my home club so its such a good feeling when you pull the shirt on and come out of the tunnel and hear guys shouting for you.”
Despite McLaughlin scoring on Saturday, Coleraine could only manage a draw but James was far from despondent. “To be honest going into Saturday’s game we weren’t really expected to get much from it yet we dominated most of the game. You could say it was disappointing to not get all three points after the way we played but when you consider we weren’t expected to get any we were happy to get a point.”
McLaughlin’s success at Coleraine will certainly encourage other lads in local junior soccer circles.
“I would say to local lads to keep doing what they are doing, keep training hard and play hard. It’s a case of giving your best week in week out. You never know who sees you or what can happen. Ian Parkhill showed before I joined Coleraine that it is possible for someone playing for Ballybogey or any of the local teams can be picked up and make it into the Irish League.
“It is a massive step but it is possible. The biggest difference for me was the training. Getting into shape and match fit is hard and takes a lot of time and effort. I’m not 100% match fit yet but I’m working hard on it but I soon will be. Coleraine is my home club and I’ve been given a big chance and I intend to make the best of it.”