COLERAINE Reserve team boss Johnny Law said the progress his young team has made this season is ‘beyond all expectation’.
Law was speaking to Times Sport ahead of Boxing Day’s Craig Memorial Cup final, which sees the Bannsiders second string take on Moyola Park at Fortwilliam Park.
Law is hoping the reserves can keep their incredible run going, which has saw them lose on three games so far this term. The young players have won a lot of admirers along the way both for the style of football being played, but also for the character, work rate and desire they have shown.
This has helped them see off senior sides like Institute and Lisburn Distillery as well as a very strong Linfield Swifts side in recent weeks much to Law’s delight.
“I can’t praise them high enough,” he told Times Sport. “What they have achieved this season is beyond all expectations. I’m very proud of them.
“It is such a young team. The majority of our team could have another four or five years at this level, the potential is there and the future is certainly bright.”
Law has watched the majority of this side develop from young boys at Bertie Peacocks Youths into the players they are today, and he said their development is the most important thing.
“To be honest I don’t really care about the results all I’m focusing on is getting players into the first team, and there are some knocking on the door,” said Law.
“I keep drumming it in to them that you have to have the hunger and the desire to go along with the ability if you are going to make it at the top level. I told the lads if you leave Coleraine the only way is down.
“To be fair to them they work hard in training and they are reaping the rewards.”
Since Oran Kearney came in to the club he has handed a number of reserves the opportunity to sample first team action in the North West Senior Cup, something which pleases Law greatly.
“There’s no doubt about it the lads have really benefited from playing in the North West Cup,” he said.
“Not only does it give them the opportunity to sample what it’s like to be involved with the first team squad and work first hand with Oran, but it also gives us a chance to have a look at them in action against senior opposition.
“They need that experience and it has stood them in good stead this season, none more so than against Lisburn Distillery in the Intermediate Cup last week.
“Not only were the conditions terrible, but they were also up against a side packed with Premiership quality players.
“Our boys were excellent on the day. When they went behind a lot of people would have been expecting us to crumble but we actually got stronger, our fitness really showed.
“We were unlucky not to win it in normal time, but it went to penalties. I told the players not to be worrying and just to go out and hit their penalty as they had already exceeded our expectation.
“Our keeper told the boys not to worry as he was going to save a few penalties and so it proved he saved three!
“As I said it was a tremendous achievement especially when you look at the opposition we were up against. Distillery boss Tommy Kincaid was very complimentary to us afterwards.
“We need a similar performance on Boxing Day. It will be a tough game and Moyola are definitely favourites, but there’s no pressure on us. I’ve won the cup four times as a player and manager and it would be a great late Christmas present to add a fifth win.”