Wonder strike lights up subdued league encounter

What a goal...James McLaughlin is chased by his Coleraine team-mates as they celebrate his wonder goal against Dungannon Swifts at the Showgrounds on Saturday.

What a goal...James McLaughlin is chased by his Coleraine team-mates as they celebrate his wonder goal against Dungannon Swifts at the Showgrounds on Saturday.

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It won’t go down as one of the best games of the season, but it featured one of the best goals you will see anywhere this season.

With both sides having to play 120 minutes intheir midweek cup games it was expected to be a grind rather than a classic.

James McLaughlin receives the Garvagh, Kilrea and District Supporters' Club Player of the Month award from William and Rebecha Bradley prior to kick-off.

James McLaughlin receives the Garvagh, Kilrea and District Supporters' Club Player of the Month award from William and Rebecha Bradley prior to kick-off.

But the proceedings were lit up in the tenth minute as James McLaughlin produced a bit of magic.

Neil McCafferty swung a corner into the Dungannon Swifts penalty, and it was acrobatically fired into the net by McLaughlin.

The big man lost his marker and superbly scissor kicked the ball past Andy Coleman for his tenth of the season.

It left The Showgrounds stunned, none more so than McCafferty could do nothing but place his hands on his head in disbelief.

James McLaughlin launches himself for an acrobatic strike which sped through a ruck of players into the back of the net for the opening goal at home to Dungannon Swifts on Saturday. One of the best goals seen at the Showgrounds for many a long day and surely a contender for goal of the season.

James McLaughlin launches himself for an acrobatic strike which sped through a ruck of players into the back of the net for the opening goal at home to Dungannon Swifts on Saturday. One of the best goals seen at the Showgrounds for many a long day and surely a contender for goal of the season.

It was a fitting goal to win any game as Oran Kearney said afterwards.

“It’s as good a goal as you will see anywhere,” he told Times Sport after the game.

“James is on fire at the minute. People around the league might be shocked about that, but people around this area and a lot of Coleraine fans won’t be shocked by his performances because he has been a talent in this area for a long time.

“There has been a few obstacles in his way to allow him to play football at this level, but everything has settled down for him now and he is ready for it.

“You can see the hunger James brings to it, he looks like a player who is making up for lost time.

“Are we shocked by those type of finishes? No, because we see them in training all the time and the fitter he gets the more and more we see it.

“It was only a matter of time before we started seeing it on a Saturday.

“I delighted for him, he’s another local lad and the people on the terraces know him, so it’s great to see him doing so well.

“I’ve said it for years, goals win games, it’s as simple as that, and on a day like today it was going to take something like that to break the deadlock.

“I would take a 1-0 win every week to be honest.

“With the week we’ve had in relation to having to play 120 minutes in the cup on Wednesday night I don’t think it was ever going to be one for the purists.

“It was always going to be one of those games were it was about amanging the scenario and just trying to get the three points and moving on.

“Thankfully we’ve been able to do that.

“And to be honest James’s goal probably deserves to be the winning goal.

“I don’t think there deserved to be any other goals in the game given the manner in which he scored the goal.

“It deserves all the plaudits it will no doubt get.

“Over the last few years we’ve had a lot of players who have been good a playing certain roles, but we haven’t had that enigmatic player, a player who can do special things, and James very much fills that role.

“He’s one of those players who scores all tyoes of goals from all different angles. We’ve seen that already this season, and today’s was just another to add to the collection.

“We had a few other chances in the second half, but it was a game of few chances,” added Kearney.