JUST eight weeks after the end of the season Coleraine players find themselves back in training again as they hard work begins for their next campaign.
Oran Kearney’s men report for pre-season training tonight (Tuesday) and the boss will be laying out his expectations for the season ahead.
“Expectations for this season are pretty simple,” said Kearney. “We finished fourth last season and got to a cup final and we were three or four points off second, but that was only achieved through hard work and graft.
“We understand the responsibility we have as playing staff and we know the hard work people put in around this place.
“Fourth is the bench mark and it’s where the bar has been left from last season it’s our job now to improve on that and believe we can push on to another level.
“I’ve no doubt that with the experiences of last season we can push on.
“Our job begins again this Tuesday night and we will be working hard to produce the product everyone deserves at this club.”
Kearney was disappointed to miss out on European football last term, but he admitted on reflection it was a pretty good season.
“I was absolutely devastated and gutted after the last game of the season because of the short term-ness of that one game against Crusaders and the prize of European football which lay beyond that,” said Kearney.
“Now that the dust has settled over the last six or seven weeks we’ve had a chance to analyse the season as a whole and not just that one game.
“It’s pretty apparent just how successful the season was.”
The Bannsiders boss has been biding his time in the transfer market, but he feels the most important piece of business for the club has been signing its own talent on long term deals.
“One of the biggest things we’ve done this summer is to tie down our best young players to long term deals, because for too long this club has lost its best talent to the so-called better teams,” said Kearney.
“We’ve four in particular who we have tied down to three-year contracts, which we feel with their age, quality and the attributes they have is just as important as going out and sourcing new talent.
“Last summer we signed a lot of young players with potential because we just aren’t in the position to go out and sign six or seven marquee signings as such.
“We did a lot of good business last year, but I’m as equally delighted with the business we have done so far this summer.
“We are looking at the long term stability of this club and those four players are the type of players we want to build a club around.”
The Bannsiders meanwhile have been handed a home start to the 2012-13 Premiership season.
Oran Kearney’s team will commence the season by hosting Crusaders on Saturday 11 August, followed by an away trip to champions Linfield on Saturday 18th. The Bannsiders August fixture list will be completed with another difficult away match at Shamrock Park against Portadown on 25th August.
The festive fixture list sees the Stripes travel to neighbours Ballymena United on Boxing Day followed by fixtures against Portadown (A) and Glentoran (H) on 29th December and 1st January 2013 respectively.
Coleraine will complete their pre-split league matches against Glenavon on 23rd March 2013, again seeking to secure a top six position.