IT has been some week for Coleraine.
The medal success of local rowers Alan Campbell, Peter and Richard Chambers at the Olympic Games in London has propelled our town on to the world stage.
And Bannsiders boss Oran Kearney is hoping some of that will rub off on his players.
Kearney’s men narrowly missed out on success in the League Cup last season and also suffered final day heartache in the race for European football.
But he told Times Sport that they should all have even more hunger and desire this term to go one better.
“We want to win the league until it’s not mathematically possible,” said Kearney after watching his side beat H&W Welders 5-1 in the latest friendly on Saturday.
“I hope all the players have that same hunger and desire because you have to aspire to that.
“In my view our squad was probably a bit too young to make a challenge for the league last season. I think that showed in the League Cup final and the Irish Cup quarter final.
“There was a bit of naivety about us.
“But those experiences are banked all the guys are a year older and what you hope for this season is that you get that wee bit extra.”
The Bannsiders of course have the perfect opportunity to put the record straight in Saturday’s opening fixture of the newly named Danske Bank Premiership.
For their nemesis of last season, Stephen Baxter’s Crusaders side, visit The Showgrounds.
“The joy of football is you don’t have long to address things which didn’t go in your favour,” said Kearney.
“Last season is last season, it’s a blur now and it doesn’t matter, all that matters now is next Saturday and the next ball.”
Since reporting back for training the players have been put through their paces by Kearney and his coaching staff, and he says they are now chomping at the bit for the real action to start.
“The lads are raring to go now,” he said.
“You do get fed up with pre-season and you want to get down to business and competitive games.
“Our first four games are massive tests for us. I’m delighted with that as I’d rather have those sorts of games than start off with low key games.
“We’re really looking forward to it. We’ll take it easy this week and dust ourselves down. It will be a couple of light sessions just to get the legs revved up for it so we can come out all guns blazing.
“The last five and a half weeks were just about hitting the lads as hard as we could hit them. This week we’ve eased off the pedal big time.
“We played on Tuesday night and had a light session on Thursday as we wanted to use the Welders game as an indicator to where we are.
“Prior to this we’ve worked them really hard before games, which is how pre-season should be. But as I say we wanted to see if the worked had paid of and to be honest I’m pretty happy with what I saw.
“We’re still nowhere close to getting a formation or a team for next Saturday. But the guys answered a lot of questions as to where we are at physically.
“We were up against a very experienced Welders side today, who will do really well this season. So I’m pleased we stood up to that and got the goals today.”
To date Kearney has only brought in Mark Gillan and Lee Colligan to his squad, but he said he is still looking to add to his squad, if the right player comes up.
However he said reports of a return for Stephen Carson are, at this stage anyway, just paper talk.
“Everyone’s talking about a supposed deal for Stephen,” said Kearney.
“At this point in time he has two years left on his contract at Glentoran and from what I’m hearing all the financial bits and pieces will be sorted out in the short term at The Oval, which means they should reach the end of the window without having to get rid of players.
“To be honest I’ve never really saw it as a goer, but that’s just us looking from the uotside in, we never want to unsettle players and that’s why I don’t like to comment on it as he’s not our player.
“We never wanted Stephen to go and it would be nice to have him back, but in the same context he’s a contract with Glentoran.
“But we’re always looking to add to the squad. There’s a month to go until the window closes and we’ll keep looking as we always want to add quality to the squad.
“We had Stewart McMullan in there today. I know him well and he has followed my career slightly to this point. He was starting to show glimpses at 17/18 before he took himself off to study to be a teacher in Liverpool.
“He played at a very good standard over there with Heswall.
“I haven’t seen him play for four years, but I know that’s a good standard from my time there, so I was dying to see what he’d have about him, and to be fair I though he did quite well.
“He very versatile, he can play centre half or right back, he’s a local lad and it could be something which suits us.”