Kearney delighted with Bannsiders’ form

Coleraine's Neil McCafferty 
celebrates after scoring his second penalty to make it 3-0.
Coleraine's Neil McCafferty celebrates after scoring his second penalty to make it 3-0.

Coleraine may have won this battle on Saturday, but they have the bigger target of winning the war in mind.

The Bannsiders ran out convincing 3-0 winners over Cliftonville at The Showgrounds on Saturday with two penalties from Neil McCafferty and goal from Brad Lyons in what could be a dress rehearsal for the Europa League play-offs in a week’s time.

And Oran Kearney is delighted his players are hitting top gear at just the right time.

“It was a very strong and promising performance, and that’s the way we wanted it going into these last two games,” he said after the game.

“This last month was the calm before the storm. It wasn’t about flying for the last three or four weeks, it was about peaking at the right time.

“Against Crusaders last week I think we showed in big patches of it that we were starting to come back to top gear again, and today was another step up.

“I said to the lads people will talk to their blue in the face about results, goals and everything else.

“But the three goals today don’t interest me, it was all about the manner of the performance. The players knew we needed a 90 minute performance today,” Kearney added.

“I said to them before the game we were climbing the rungs of a ladder and today had to be the day that we knew we are bubbling for the play-offs.

“After the game I told them I didn’t need to stand and tell them how good they were today, I know they know how good they were, and I know they know the level they need to be at on Friday night.

“It’s about peaking at the right time. There’s two games left this season and they have been the most important games for the last 10 or 12 weeks.

“Nobody is going to remember us for beating Glentoran after the break, but they will remember us if we beat Glentoran on Friday night. I’m happy today that we’re ready, I’m content heading away from here today that we’re ready to go.”

Cliftonville boss Gerard Lyttle will be hoping to regroup this week after watching his side slip to four defeats on the bounce.

“We have a week now to knuckle down and prepare and try to work out where it’s going wrong,” said Lyttle.

“The final is a one-off game, but we’re the team that’s not in form. We’ve lost four in a row and it’s not good enough, but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have to dust ourselves down and hopefully if we do get over the line we’ll reassess things after that.

“I was disappointed more with the performance of the referee, big decisions are going against us, poor decisions.”