A WHOLE NEW BALL GAME

ON THE BALL...Oran Kearney has told his players that they have to make a good start.'�2011 Derek Simpson
ON THE BALL...Oran Kearney has told his players that they have to make a good start.'�2011 Derek Simpson

ORAN Kearney has told his players it’s important they ‘hit the ground running this season’.

Speaking to Times Sport ahead of this Saturday’s Carling Premiership opener at Dungannon Swifts, Kearney said there is a real buzz about The Showgrounds following the summer rebuilding, but he added there will be no excuses for people not producing the goods from the first whistle.

“Everything’s changed this term,” he said honestly. “Last season when we came in we were trying to do a job to take us through to the end of April.

“Some people might say it’s a period of transition given the amount of new faces we’ve brought in and it might take a year or two to achieve anything.

“But I don’t buy into that. For me the transition period was the six weeks over the summer. We spent that time recruiting all the new players we’ve brought into the club.

“The need for them at a club of this size is to hit the ground running.

“I’m craving that from them and they must be up to the mark from the first minute, because I don’t do transition periods.

“We’ve worked tremendously hard in pre-season and we have to make sure we carry that through.”

Kearney has also blown any suggestion of Dungannon being some sort of a ‘bogey side’ for the Bannsiders completely out of the water.

“I understand Dungannon have been a bit of a bogey team for us especially down there,” he said.

“But when you bring in 11 or 12 new guys who have never been here to experience the so called ‘bogey side’ then that goes out the window.

“I’ve never experienced it and I don’t expect to. We won the one game we played them since I took over and I fully expect us to go down there and do the same.

“We had someone watch them on Saturday as we felt they would maybe show their hand as it’s their final friendly game.

“But we’ve a fair idea as to how they’ll play and what we’ll be up against.

“It’s a super ground and probably at this stage in the season when the grass can be a bit sticky it’s probably one of the better grounds to ensure a decent surface.”

So what are the boss’ targets in what will be his first full season in charge at The Showgrounds?

“Straight away we just say we want to better the previous season,” he said. “There’s no doubt if we can do that then we’ll be making progress and getting somewhere.

“To finish seventh last time gives us the beautiful target of finishing in the top six.

“No matter who has gone or who has come in, if we finish in the top six it’s progress.

“In the same stretch we’re all in football for the one thing, to win things.

“I’m no different, I crave success, especially over the off season when I’ve been about the club you can just sense from the fans and everyone involved here that they crave it as well.

“We’re in every competition to win it. You have to have that mentality until it’s mathematically impossible for us not to win it.

“We’re all just counting down the days to get started now.

“Everyone’s the same from the fans right through to the players, coaches and directors - we all just can’t wait to get going.

“After the friendlies with Dergview and Portstewart we’ll have a couple of light nights and that will be us ready to go.

“Competition for places is rife at the minute. I’ve had a few sleepless nights from my point of view but that’s the beauty of the job and that’s what I’m striving for.

“It’s nice to finally be in that position were there is competition, I can sense it, the players can sense it and it’s healthy.

“It’s not a case were people are stabbing each other in the back. There’s a good buzz about the place and everyone’s buzzing.

“We went to Windsor Park last season and we had four 16-year-olds on the bench and I don’t think that’s a position you want to be in too often.

“We know the Academy is doing great work and we’ve brought in Ollie and Pat for the Reserves and Colts and they’ve had a big recruitment drive on too.

“So I expect competition at all levels and the three sides at the top level in the club to be firing on all levels.

“We want that conveyor belt to be coming through so we don’t need to have to do what we did this summer again.

“The big crux of talent we wanted to get to the club we’ve got here.”