Back in the old routine

Stephen Dooley celebrates his 37th minute equalizer
Stephen Dooley celebrates his 37th minute equalizer

Oran Kearney said he feels his side are starting to look like themselves again after they produced a terrific performance against Cliftonville in Saturday’s Irish Cup fifth round clash at Solitude.

Twice the Bannsiders battled back from a goal down to get back on level terms in an enthralling encounter.

Kearney’s men can feel a little agrieved that they didn’t see the win on the day but the boss was happy enough to take it to a replay as his side have the spring back in their step again.

“It was a great cup tie, one which you wouldn’t mind paying into that’s for sure,” he told Times Sport.

“It had everything really. You know, we possibly could have won it in the end but hand on heart it would have been harsh on either team to lose it. More than anything I’m pleased that we are starting to look like my Coleraine again. On our last visit to Solitude 10 days ago we were out of the practically in the first 15 minutes. We made a poor start and never recovered from it.

“So it was important going into today’s game that we had learned our lesson, we had to make sure and stay in the game to give ourselves a chance. We did that and even after going behind twice we never let it affect us we just kept going and got our reward. That hunger and enthusiasm which we had built our sides on is coming back which is vital for our recovery.

“Though I’m standing here thinking of the chances we had to win the match, I know Cliftonville will be doing the same so I’m not disappointed with the draw.

“We’re trying to build a bit of momentum game by game and I’m pleased with how things have gone in the last couple of weeks. We were much better here and I take encouragement from that because I always felt we would begin turning the corner.”

Kearney had a special word of praise for his goal scorers, recent acquisitions Stephen Dooley and David McDaid.

“They took their goals really well, they showed their natural goal scoring ability,” he said.

“Both guys have come in over the last week or two and I think you can see that they don’t have the baggage of some of the players after the poor run we were on. They were playing with a freedom in their play and just wanted to get on the ball. Davy’s goal was testament to that, it showed the confidence he has. It was a fantastic strike really instinctive.”

Fellow new boy Eugene Ferry was also in great form on the day producing several top saves, although he told his new boss he was disappointed to concede the second goal.

“Eugene had another fine game,” said Kearney. “He made a couple of top drawer saves, but he was disappointed after the game with Cliftonville’s second. He felt he should have come and taken the cross before Boyce scored. I’m pleased though that he realised that and was keen to come and collect it’s the type of keeper he is. He has made a big impact in the games he’s played in already.”

At the other end Conor Devlin was also in top form and Tommy Breslin admitted last year’s beaten finalists had their keeper to thank for earning next Tuesday’s replay.

“In many ways we’re lucky still to be in it,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the double save from Conor at the end, we could have been going out. We’re just thankful still to be in the draw.

“Coleraine are a good side who are in a false position in the league, they’ve just been missing one or two key people, but they looked strong today. They looked sharp and they looked hungry and they had a good desire to win the game.

They were always a good side and The Showgrounds always a tough place to go to, but that’s the way it is.

“We had the opportunity today to finish them off and we didn’t and, as I say, we rode our luck at times so I’m just relieved that we’re still in the cup.”