Top six secured but Kearney wants more

Press Eye - Belfast -  Northern Ireland - 20th February 2016 - Photo by William Cherry

Coleraine manager Oran Kearney during Saturdays Danske Bank Premiership game against Linfield at the Showgrounds, Coleraine.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 20th February 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Coleraine manager Oran Kearney during Saturdays Danske Bank Premiership game against Linfield at the Showgrounds, Coleraine.

Coleraine manager Oran Kearney has challenged his players to kick on and reach the next level.

Kearney was left disappointed after his side let a 2-0 lead slip against Linfield last Saturday.

But he admitted he has been impressed with what his young side has achieved this season - but he wants more, starting with Saturday’s trip to Cliftonville.

“Our progress has been brilliant,” he told Times Sport.

“When I zoom out from today and as much as I’m disappointed with the result, big parts of the first half were really good.

“If you had said at the start of the season we would have secured top six already everyone would have said it would be one heck of a season.

“But it’s the progress that we all know we’ve made leaves us slightly frustrated.

“Days like today we should be taking something out of the game. The League Cup semi final and the Irish Cup game at Portadown are two more lows.

“We are tantalisingly close, it’s just the wee things we have to try and polish up.

“Set pieces is obviously one area we have to improve on.

“I said to the players they need to step up to the mark and stop passing the buck and take the responsibility, and thrive on it.

“I don’t want them to see it as a burden, but I want them to thrive on it.”

Kearney has now set his sights on finishing the season in style with the Europa League play-offs at the forefront of his mind.

The Bannsiders boss knows every game will be a cup final from now until the end of the season with every club eyeing a home draw in the play-offs.

“The talk before the game was we have to aim to blow it all open again,” said Kearney.

“A result today would have been brilliant in doing that.

“We’re a wee bit further afield now, but we have to keep on fighting for that third and fourth place to try and nail one of those home draws.”

Words: Steven Crawford