Coleraine boss Kearney in praise for Dooley after star showing

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney with Stephen Dooley
Coleraine boss Oran Kearney with Stephen Dooley

With Stephen Dooley now on his way back to the United States, Coleraine manager Oran Kearney insists it’s onwards and upwards for the remainder of the Premiership campaign.

Dooley made a dramatic impact in the two games he played over the festive break, helping the Bannsiders to their first league win in nine starts when beating Ards – and then grabbing a deserved draw in Saturday’s thrilling Irish Cup tie against Cliftonville.

“He helped set the tone for the rest of the season,” said Kearney.

“Our poor run was well documented – we became accustomed to losing. But we’ve now turned the corner and I’m urging the boys to develop a winning mentality.

“Stephen certainly was an inspiration, scoring in both games. He was a breath of fresh air. I was happy to get the win over Ards, but I was absolutely thrilled with our performance against the Reds, we were excellent. We were unlucky not to win it.”

Kearney, who has also lost the services of veteran midfielder Stephen Carson – he is due to take up a coaching appointment in America next week – is now demanding the same again when Warrenpoint Town visit the Showgrounds on Tuesday.

“It will be another big test,” he adds. “They put together some good results to get them away form the bottom of the table.

“They’ll be kicking themselves for losing three goals in the last few minutes against Linfield. That tells us how dangerous they are.”

Kearney concedes it may be too ambitious to have the influential Stephen Lowry available for selection.

“Stevie picked up a little hamstring twinge and missed the game on Saturday,” he said. “This match comes perhaps just a little bit too soon.

“I don’t want to rush him back because there is the danger of doing more damage. He is chomping at the bit to get playing, but we’ll leave it to the medical team to decide.

“Paul Owens will hopefully come back into the squad.”