LEAGUE CUP FINAL: Oran Kearney calling on Coleraine players to savour trophy glory

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney with the trophy in front of the vocal supporters. Pic by INPHO.Coleraine boss Oran Kearney with the trophy in front of the vocal supporters. Pic by INPHO.
Coleraine boss Oran Kearney with the trophy in front of the vocal supporters. Pic by INPHO.
Coleraine manager Oran Kearney has warned his players to savour the moment in the aftermath of Saturday’s trophy success.

It marked a first prize in Kearney’s second spell as Bannsiders boss and he is keen for his squad to embrace the occasion ahead of future challenges.

“We are all brilliant at moving on but the big thing is I want the players between now and training on Tuesday to only think about tonight’s win,” said Kearney. “We want them to enjoy it with each other and our families and people around the club.

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“We all graft and graft for moments like this and it’s important as a group to get that enjoyment out of the achievement.

“We beat Cliftonville in a really tough quarter-final then Linfield at Windsor Park in the semi-final so we’ve absolutely grafted to get to this point and no-one can begrudge us.

“It needs to be that catalyst but football is too short not to enjoy this moment and everything else will take care of itself.

“It should be a shot in the arm now to really kick on.

“I think the group has been in a really good place but the one thing that always gives players confidence is winning.

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“It’s getting tougher, with the full-time training and finances of others we’ve got to find a way to remain competitive.

“It’s about recruitment but also about getting in as much work in a part-time week as such to stay combative.

“The learning curve from losing to Linfield in the Irish Cup in 2017 was fantastic.

“We put it right the next year and took another big step.

“We are now past that stage of the hullabaloo around occasions like this and it’s all about the football match.

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“Getting to this final and the anticipation of it helped us over Christmas and into January.

“When signing players you want any bargaining tool or selling point possible.

“You want a greedy bunch of players moving forward.”

Stephen Lowry and James McLaughlin grabbed the goals as Coleraine turned the tables on an early deficit to secure the BetMcLean League Cup prize.

“Crusaders came out of the traps and we didn’t, we shot ourselves in the foot with the first goal,” said Kearney. “We had a few other scares and sometimes you can think the game is starting to drift away.

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“But we got that bit of joy with the penalty kick and we’ve missed a few in recent weeks but Stephen stepped up and it was a massive moment.

“From where we were at in the game at that time, you feel a big momentum shift and it allowed us to go in at half-time and regroup.

“The second half was more like it, we had doggedness and were a bit more cute.

“In the first half we were reacting but in the second half we were anticipating and, when like that, we are a different animal.

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“Adam Mullan had a virus all week and didn’t really train, although has been exceptional this season.

“Aaron Jarvis has made unbelievable progress in coming back from injury but we felt he maybe only had 25 or 30 minutes maximum.

“We hoped the adrenaline would get Aaron through and I don’t know where he got those 70-odd minutes from.

“Aaron Traynor’s injury looks like he has banged a shoulder off an advertising hoarding, so we weren’t expecting that one but Josh Carson dropped into left-back.

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“We will never have a massive squad but we do have versatility, thankfully, with people willing to jump into different roles.

“Eoin Bradley probably had 15 or 20 minutes in him today but because we had used two substitutes I didn’t want to risk him for our final change and possibly end up losing him.

“You are trying to portion out the time wisely to get us through as certain players had certain pockets of time we knew we could use.”