THERE was a collective sigh of relief around The Showgrounds on Saturday as Coleraine got back to winning ways - but boy did they do it the hard way.
Two goals to the good and seemingly cruising at half time, but the first 15 minutes of the second half perfectly summed up the Bannsiders Jekyl and Hyde season to date.
They did their best to throw away the three points despite first half goals from Gary Browne and Stevie Lowry looking to have put them on the road to their first win in three games. To their credit though Warrenpoint Town hit back before the hour mark as Daniel Hughes and Liam Bagnall drew them level.
But Browne popped up with just over 20 minutes to go to win the game and have Kearney breathe a sigh of relief.
“It has been the story of our season, some fantastic performances for parts of games and then, I wouldn’t even call it indifferent performances,” he said afterwards.
“That 20 minute spell at the start of the second half was probably as poor a performance we have produced during my time here.
“Credit must go to Warrenpoint because it’s not just about us being poor, they came out of the blocks in the second half and really threw everything at us and took their goals well.
“For as controlled and as solid as we were in the first half it was disappointing that it turned in to what it did.
“The big thing we had asked for over the last couple of weeks was goals and we got them in the first half today.
“It was a very nervous ending for us. Call it mental baggage, call it what you want but when you come through two decent performances from us when we should have won the game and you don’t get anything from that you could see today the first goal was nearly like a release.”
Kearney was pleased his side showed the mental toughness to bounce back and win the game given their recent setbacks.
“You have to put yourself mentally as to where the players are at as they are on such a high at being 2-0 up to all of a sudden find yourself 2-2 in a game which should never have been 2-2,” said the Bannsiders boss.
“We had a decision to make, do we lie down or do we stand up. It is tough but we steadied the ship and got going again and Gary Browne steps up with a goal befitting of any stage.
“I can look at that 20 minute spell and be despondent, but for the other 70 minutes we played some good stuff and we saw the game out well.”
The Bannsiders head to Windsor Park this Saturday to face a resurgent Linfield and Kearney knows his side can’t afford to shut off like they did on Saturday.
“A performance like that won’t be good enough at Windsor Park,” said Kearney.
“You can’t afford to do that against any team in the league and Warrenpoint proved that today.
“They flexed their muscles for 20 minutes in the second half and for as bad as we were they caused us a lot of problems.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Linfield or Warrenpoint it’s more about if you have the right attitude. For as many warnings we gave out at half time I suppose human nature kicks and when you’re 2-0 up and you do take your foot off the pedal.
“It’s a big boost for us to get back to winning ways.”