Kearney lays it on the line

ORAN Kearney has thrown down the gauntlet to his players following his side’s 5-0 defeat at the hands of league leaders Cliftonville last Tuesday night.

The Bannsiders boss told his squad they are playing for their long term future at the club if performances do not improve.

“I know where I’m going and where I want to take this club, it’s up to the players now to decide if they want to be on the bus with me or not,” said Kearney.

“They are playing for their futures.”

With only two wins in their last eight games it’s fair to say Coleraine’s form is patchy at best and Kearney has challenged individuals to step up to the plate.

“It has been a tough last few weeks for us,” he said.

“Taking the Distillery game out of the equation reallistically our last performance was at Ballymena on Boxing Day.

“You might say that the guys are mentally tired as we’ve played a lot of football so far using the same crop of players.

“But we’ve also just come back from two weeks off, which is unusual to get at this stage of the season. We had some good sessions and were raring to go again, but we just didn’t do it on the pitch.

“We have conceded a lot of goals this season, but we defend as a team.

“The first line of defence is attack. For the opposition to get into areas where they can score they have to get through the forwards and midfield.

“Again it comes down to a basic work ethic. Everyone has to be prepared to work hard for the shirt and do their jobs.

“In simple terms it comes down to individuals not performing.

“If it continues then questions will have to be asked. It’s certainly nothing to do with technical ability, as we have some very good footballers at this club.

“So is it to do with their hunger and enjoyment of the game? It would certainly seem so.

“My first 18 months in this job have been fantastic and I’m delighted for that. But I knew last season when we were riding high that there would be tough times and I mentally prepared myself for it.

“But I’m relishing the challenge, I’m chomping at the bit to be honest.

“This is the time you find out about people - do they have the stomach for a fight?

“I know I have and I want people around me who will stand up and be counted and show that hunger and desire. ”I can lead them to the white line, but once they cross it they have to be accountable for their actions.

“It’s not just about quality, players have to show passion and fight for the cause.

“I have given everyone ample opportunities to prove themselves and it’s up to them to take it. There will be no excuses at the end of the season.”