Oran Kearney says he's never experienced anything like current campaign
Oran Kearney says he has never experienced anything like the current packed fixture programme in his two decades involved in the Irish League.
The Coleraine boss has seen most things in over 20 years as a player and manager but February's jam-packed schedule has left him wondering how to overcome it.
"I played in the Irish League since I was 20/21 and I've managed in the Irish League, I'm now 42," said Kearney.
"In the 22 years or so that I've been involved never known anything like it – for everybody.
"The volume of games in short succession just makes it a lottery at times.
"It's tough to combat because it's not going to get easier and we're all in the same position.
"When you play Saturday to Saturday a lot of teams will pride themselves on their fitness and their sharpness and the ability to maybe get out of the blocks or maybe have a strong finish to get a game or whatever else.
"I think it nullifies and evens a lot of that out because very few teams are going to have that in the tank. You're almost looking for purple patches.
"We started second half well against Portadown and had a 20 minute spell where we got our goal and you're looking for patches like that to get your goal and then see games out."
Over the last three games Kearney has lost three players to muscle injuries.
Stephen O'Donnell limped out of last week's win over Crusaders, Gareth Deane picked up an injury in the midweek draw against Cliftonville and Eoin Bradley was forced off in the first half of Saturday's draw with Portadown.
Kearney knows the intensity of recent weeks will play a big part in the availability of players and he is hoping that the rest of his squad will come through it unscathed with another big game at Glenavon on Tuesday night.
"We're not too bad numbers wise but we're starting to deplete," said the Bannsiders boss.
"We got Stevie straight off the pitch when it happened and we're hoping we'll maybe see him back in training this week.
"We'll have to wait and see how Skinner is.
"I'm hoping Matthew Shevlin maybe get back to a bit of training this week as well – his ankle has been a frustrating one.
"A big part of his game is energy and freshness so we've missed him as well in relation to.
"That's up to the medical staff – we do as much as we can to get those guys back out there again.
"Hopefully Gareth will be available again for Tuesday."
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