ORAN Kearney has heaped praised on Coelraine burgeoning youth development following the Bannsiders 3-1 win over Limavady United in the North West Cup last week.
Nine of the 15 players used by Kearney on the night were home grown and the Bannsiders boss was quick to praise Reserve manager Johnny Law and former Colts boss Ollie Mullan for their hard work in making it possible.
“It’s a great reward for the kids in the reserves to play at this level and it is a chance for us to get a really good look at them,” said Kearney after the game.
“Johnny Law gives excellent reports to me every week on who is performing well, but we always like to see how they respond to the step-up to a first team situation like this.
“It wouldn’t be fair on them to throw them in at the deep end against the likes of Linfield, so this is as real as it gets.
“We have the likes of Luke Bradley, who can always look back on tonight as the night he scored his first goal for his hometown club and young Lyndon Kane, who also made his debut, is another player we feel has a very bright future ahead of him.
“The first team is obviously my chief remit as manager of this club, but when I arrived, I wanted to make sure structures were put in place at reserve team and youth team level which would enable us to attract the best young players from the area.
“Ollie Mullan did an outstanding job in his two seasons managing the Colts, Johnny Law obviously has Irish league management experience from Tobermore, and over the summer he has worked hard to bring a lot of top quality young players to the club at under-17, under-18 and reserve team level.
“I’ve said it all along, and I feel we’re progressing well in terms of meeting this objective, that we absolutely have to produce our own players. Kids see the likes of Joel Bradley, Craig Moore and Johnny Stewart in our first team squad and they see that this is a club where young, local players are given a chance. When I came here, a lot of the best local youth players were going to Derry, Belfast and elsewhere for their football but now players are knocking on our door, looking to play for Coleraine and that’s testament to the work done by Johnny and Ollie in the last couple of years.”