IRISH LEAGUE: Coleraine’s striking options boosted ahead of Portadown clash

Coleraine's Eoin Bradley scored a hat-trick against Carrick Rangers in the Irish Cup.
Coleraine's Eoin Bradley scored a hat-trick against Carrick Rangers in the Irish Cup.

Oran Kearney was delighted with his side’s quickfire blitz of Carrick Rangers last week, but he wants to see it more often.

The Bannsiders killed off the fifth round Irish Cup tie at The Showgrounds inside 25 minutes last Saturday.

And Kearney is demanding his players get out of the blocks so quickly every week.

“Confidence is high and you could see that in our play after we scored the early goals,” he said.

“But I said to the lads we should be coming out ready to play like that from the off.

“It’s very hard to get up to speed in a game if you don’t start well.

“We put a lot of work in to make sure we get out of the blocks well.

“The big thing on Saturday was not only did we start well but we also got the goals to go with it.”

It marked a good seven days for the Bannsiders with a hat-trick of wins and the goals flowing again thanks to new signing Eoin Bradley and Jordan Allan, who has committed his immediate future to the club.

But Kearney’s striking options are boosted further with the return to fitness of James McLaughlin and Portadown old boy Gary Twigg.

“The last two games show why it was so important to get someone of Eoin’s stature and quality back here,” he said.

“It has been a really good week for him and Jordan, but the team as a whole has been excellent.

“December was a tough month with key players missing, but now to have James back and also Gary back it’s a huge boost to all of us.

“Goals win games and I’m long enough in this league to know it’s at the top end of the pitch where it makes or breaks you.”

Kearney is hoping his side can continue their recent run of good form when Portadown visit The Showgrounds on Saturday.

“We’ve hit a good wee bit of form but it’s important that we keep that going,” he said. “It won’t be easy though as Portadown are a decent side and Niall Currie has been busy strengthening his squad.”

Key to any success on the road for Portadown will be showing similar character to that which helped Currie’s depleted squad see off Larne in the Irish Cup - with a debut goal for Adam Foley an added boost.

“The reality is time stands against us given the need to claw back points,” said Currie. “The Larne win was not the most impressive football but I was really proud of the way the players managed to dig in and produce the display needed on the day.

“We will need those positive qualities moving forward and it was also important for signings like Jordan Lyttle and Tiarnan Mulvenna to build up minutes, plus Adam can take confidence from his goal and performance.

“We need the players to show they can bounce back quickly from any disappointments, dig in and show that fight for points and, also, for the signings to hit the ground running.”

The Ports face Coleraine with Robert Garrett and Garry Breen serving suspensions - plus injury concerns over Mark McAllister, Keith O’Hara and Sean Mackle.