‘Outstanding’ Conor McKendry is loving life at Coleraine says Oran Kearney

Oran Kearney feels there is even more to come from winger Conor McKendry despite the winger’s impressive start with Coleraine.

By Steven Crawford
Friday, 5th November 2021, 4:50 pm

The former Ipswich Town man has become a real fans’ favourite at The Showgrounds following his summer move from Larne.

McKendry was part of the deal which took Ben Doherty to Inver Park with a few worrying about the loss of Doherty to a title rival.

But they needn’t have worried.

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Coleraine winger Conor McKendry. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Presseye/Philip Magowan

McKendry has more than proved his in histwo months on the Ballycastle Road.

The 23-year-old has racked up four goals and five assists in all competitions to date.

Boss Kearney feels his talented young star is thriving as he is playing, and training, with a smile on his face.

“He’s been outstanding,” said the Bannsiders manager.

“We knew he was good but I just think there’s that breath of fresh air where he’s so happy to be playing football.

“He enjoys his training – there’s nutmegs in him, there’s fun in him, but more importantly, and within reason, he carries that out on to the pitch on a Saturday.

“There’s a few decisions at times where he could possibly pass or possibly do something else, but he’ll only learn that by being on the pitch and making those decisions.

“The key thing for me is that he’s got big courage.

“He wants the ball and he wants to continue to try to score goals and get assists.”

McKendry popped up with another assist late on in last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Portadown at The Showgrounds.

And Kearney knows the importance of having a creative spark in your team, particularly in tight games.

“It’s important to have someone that can unlock the door,” he said

“He could maybe have had three or four last week – he’d that type of game.

“But he was nice and calm at the end with the assist for Matthew Shevlin.

“Making that right decision will come on a regular basis – he’s 22/23 but hasn’t played a huge amount of football.

“The more games he plays and the more understanding he gets in relation to where the game’s at, if it’s 1-0 or 2-0.

“Probably towards the end there, if it’s 2-0 or 3-0, he goes himself, and that’s no problem.

“But he made a brilliant decision at the end because it was only 1-0 and that’s what you want to see.”

Kearney will be hoping McKendry can pop up with another moment of magic today as they head to Carrick Rangers, for what is remarkably their third visit of the season there already.

The Bannsiders have ran out 3-0 and 2-0 winners at the Loughview Leisure Arena in the two previous meetings this term, but Kearney knows it will be another tough test for his squad this afternoon.

“This will be our third away game against Carrick so far this season,” he said.

“I watched them against Glentoran last Friday night, they battled really and bar two moments of brilliance, they acquitted themselves really, really well.

“Up until the first and second goals I thought they more than matched Glentoran.

“It’s a hard place to go, it’s a tight pitch. Everybody knows what Carrick can be like.

“We are well versed, we will know exactly what it’s going to take to try and get all three points.

“There are no easy games in this league.

“We have played the teams statistically in 12th place and 11th place over the last two weeks and they have been two hard 2-0 victories.

“It’s up to us to kick on now.”