IRISH LEAGUE: Coleraine goalkeeper Michael Doherty revels in monthly award success

Michael Doherty receives his award from NIFWA chairman Stephen Watson
Michael Doherty receives his award from NIFWA chairman Stephen Watson

Coleraine goalkeeper Michael Doherty received the perfect boost ahead of Saturday’s clash with Portadown, being named the Belleek Player of the Month for October.

Doherty has been inspirational in his team’s push to fourth place in the Danske Bank Premiership table.

He conceded only three goals last month which made him the number one choice of the Northern Ireland Football Writers’ Association, beating Glenavon shot stopper Johnny Tuffey and Ballinamallard United’s Liam Martin to the award.

“It’s nice to for a goalkeeper to be recognised – it’s usually strikers that get these type of awards,” said a modest Doherty.

“This is probably the best and most consistent run, in terms off my performances, I’ve had in years. It’s all down to our goalkeeper coach Glenn Miller who gives me – an hour and 20 minutes of solid goalkeeping work every Tuesday night.”

Doherty admits a lot of credit for the team’s improved form is down to manager Oran Kearney, who found himself under pressure last term.

“We are flying at the minute,” added Dohnerty. “The Board showed a lot of faith in Oran. He brought in a posse of young lads and it is paying off. I think there are seven teenagers in our squad.

“The mixture of youth and experience is paying dividends.The kids have brought a lot of energy and a buzz to the club. Credit has to go to Oran for giving them the chance and putting them in. They are all local lads – and they want to play for their local club. There has been a lot of rebuilding over that last few seasons.

“We had boys that came in last year that were perhaps not equipped for the Premiership, but they now have a year of experience in their locker – they are a year wiser. I think the supporters at Coleraine know that – they are starting to come back to games. Our attendances have been up this season.”

Although the Bannsiders are now unbeaten in seven games, Doherty stresses there no easy games in the Premiership.

“In this league, I really can’t justify any team being favourites,” he added. “The league is so unpredictable. Portadown could turn up any week and blow a team out of the water. Hopefully, it’s not this week.

“It’s the same with any team. Portadown have quality all over the pitch and their strike force is one of the best. For some reason, it just hasn’t happened for them yet. Let’s hope it stays like that for another week.

“We take one game as it comes. It’s Portadown next up. After 5pm on Saturday, we’ll turn out attention to the next one.”

Donerty also admits one of the club’s best signings has been Linfield legend William Murphy, who is now assistant boss at the Showgrounds.

“Winkie has been great in the dressing room – he goes around the boys on a one-to-one basis,” added Doherty.

“He gets players up for games and his general knowledge is of how to manage games is invaluable. He’s particularly good for the younger members of the squad.”