GO FOURTH AND CONQUER

�Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - 16th March 2013. Mandatory Credit - Photo by Andrew Paton/Presseye.com, Danske Bank Premiership, Dungannon Swifts vs Coleraine at Stangmore Park. Stephen Lowry of Coleraine celebrates after he scored a goal against Dungannon
�Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - 16th March 2013. Mandatory Credit - Photo by Andrew Paton/Presseye.com, Danske Bank Premiership, Dungannon Swifts vs Coleraine at Stangmore Park. Stephen Lowry of Coleraine celebrates after he scored a goal against Dungannon

ORAN Kearney is not resting on his laurels after Coleraine secured their place in the top six of the Danske Bank Premiership.

The Bannsiders victory over Dungannon Swifts on Saturday coupled with Portadown’s failure to beat Ballymena United means Kearney’s men have secured their place in the top six once the league splits after this weekend’s round of fixtures.

Coleraine produced an excellent display at Stangmore and the boss is hoping for a big finish in their remaining fixtures.

And has set his sights on Glentoran as he bids for back to back fourth place finishes.

“Since the day and hour I walked through the doors of the club top six was always the minimum target,” Kearney told Times Sport.

“This season we targeted getting as close to last year’s total as possible.

“I don’t think we’re going to amass the same amount of points, but it’s still well within our grasp to finish fourth. And for all the negativity and bit and pieces that have crept in over the last month, we’re still on course to produce a season similar to last, which most people would class as a good one.

“You could just sense the negativity over the last couple of weeks, not from the changing room but from everywhere else.

“People were doubting we could go to Dungannon and get a result and also if we could go to Glenavon and get a result if we needed to, because they’re supposedly two of the places that we struggle at.

“So considering all that it shows you just how tight the changing room is.

“I think realistically third place is out of reach, just with the way the results have gone and the way those three teams have kicked on.

“So the only target we have left is to go for fourth. We’ve taken a couple of heavy beatings this year and it has been more up and down, but at the end of the day the proof of the pudding is where you finish in the league.

“Fourth is fourth whether you finish on 66 points or 56 points. I’m not concerned about the points total, I just want us to go out now and give the Glens a run for their money in the remaining games.

“It would make for a great finish if we could do it especially after how the last few weeks have gone.”

Securing a top six finish means the Bannsiders will have at least two big home games against Cliftonville and Linfield, which is a major boost to the club finances.

Kearney though said he never once heaped the financial pressure on to the players.

“As a manager you always try and take the financial implications of making the top six on to your own shoulders and never once has it been mentioned to the players,” he said.

“Thankfully I can now get it off my chest. We’ll have at least two big games at home after the split and the magnitude of that financially to us is massive.

“As I say it’s never been mentioned to the players, all we ever talk about is football. But finance is one of the cold hard facts about football.

“So it’s nice to finally get over the line.”

So with the pressure off Coleraine head to Glenavon this Saturday, but Kearney is determined to keep the momentum going as the hunt for fourth continues.

“Our team talk on Saturday was all about looking up, some people might looking behind and start contemplating what it? But my target has been fourth and still is fourth and we have to keep winning games to get as close to that as possible,” he said.

“Saturday’s game with Glenavon offers us another opportunity to pick up three points. We have to put right the first 20 minutes of the Dungannon game, but if we can replicate the other 70 minutes then there’s no reason why we can’t pick up another win.

“We’ll welcome back Howard Beverland and David Ogilby into the panel, which is great because when you lose the spine of your team for a tough away fixture like Dungannon, who are fighting for their lives, it makes it difficult.

“But to be fair to Kyle and Stuart they defended very well.”