IRISH LEAGUE: Coleraine boss Oran Kearney is focused on Cliftonville test

Oran Kearney
Oran Kearney

Coleraine manager Oran Kearney was delighted with his players after the Bannsiders secured an opening day victory at Dungannon Swifts.

The visitors were reduced to ten men early in the second-half following the dismissal of Steven Douglas, but secured all three points after goals from Ciaron Harkin, Stephen O’Donnell and Ian Parkhill in the last half hour.

“It was a great win as Stangmore Park is a difficult place to go,” Kearney said.

“It was highly documented that we came down here last season and got beat 4-0.

“I have to give the players credit for their performance with 10 men as we defended superbly and took our goals well.”

Harkin’s long range effort was his first goal for Coleraine since arriving from Institute in January, and boss Kearney was thrilled with the midfielder’s contribution.

“It was a great strike from Ciaron and he has that in his locker,” Kearney added.

“He was due a goal and it couldn’t have arrived at a better time.

“We need to get more goals from midfield and defence, so it was nice to see Ciaron and Stephen both getting on the scoresheet.

Kearney’s men will turn to their attentions to Cliftonville on Tuesday night, before a trip to Seaview to face Crusaders this weekend.

“The fixtures come thick and fast and we are raring to go,” Kearney said.

“It is a difficult set of fixtures but we picked up all three points Dungannon and we need to kick on.

“Barry will obviously be raring to go after picking up a win in his first game as Cliftonville manager and Crusaders are always strong at home.

“But we have a strong squad here and we are looking forward to it.”

And Ballymena United skipper Jim Ervin is grateful to have an early chance to ‘put things right’ when the Sky Blues resume their Danske Bank Premiership campaign away to Carrick Rangers tonight.

After a disastrous opening day 4-1 loss to Crusaders at the Showgrounds on Friday night, Ervin took some solace from the quick turnaround in fixtures.

However, he’s expecting another tough contest against David McAlinden’s men at Taylor’s Avenue as both sides look to get their first points on the board.

A 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Crusaders last season didn’t stop the Sky Blues secure a lofty fourth-place finish so the defender isn’t too downhearted about Friday night’s reversal.

“We didn’t get too down on ourselves last year after that result,” said the Ballymena captain. “It was the first game of the season and there’s 38 games to be played. It’s a long, long season and there’ll be a lot of twists and turns between now and next April.

“The plus side for us is that Tuesday night comes around very quick. We’re not having to wait a week to get another game.

“We’ll dust ourselves down and get ourselves prepared for Tuesday night. It’s going to be another tough game but there’s no easy games in this league, especially the first series of fixtures until you start finding out what teams are about this year.

“But we’ll be looking forward to going to Taylor’s Avenue and try and put things right. I know their manager Davy McAlinden very well. He was at our game on Friday night and he’ll have his side well drilled. We’ll expect a really tough game.

“We’ve started with Crusaders and have Carrick, Glenavon and Linfield after that so the first four fixtures are not easy.”