Kearney up for the battle

Bitter - Oran ? no Bitter cold.
Bitter - Oran ? no Bitter cold.

ORAN Kearney is relishing the battle for a top six.

The Bannsiders need four points from their remaining two games to seal their place, but they face trips to Stangmore Park and Mourneview Park - two grounds which haven’t been happy hunting grounds of late.

But Kearney told Times Sport he is looking forward to it.

“I’m sure people will be quick to write us off because we don’t have the best of records at Dungannon or Glenavon,” he said.

“But I’m looking forward to it as I’ve no doubt we can go to those two places and get the wins we need.

“It’s all about attitude and application. We can lament about the missed chances against Crusaders, but I’ll not begrudge them because we didn’t have any chances to miss against Portadown last week.

“It was a lot easier for me this week because I know if we can continue to produce that work ethic we’ll win more than we lose.”

Kearney revealed he had a good chat with the players last week following the Irish Cup disappointment.

“I had a good chat with the players before training last Tuesday night,” he said.

“I know it’s not a fitness or quality thing it comes down more to mentality than anything else.

“There have been times this season when we’ve stepped up to the mark and played really well, but there have been other times when we’ve gone under.

“Against Portadown too many players went under. Bar Howard Beverland and Aaron Canning apart from the penalty, the rest of them just didn’t turn up and I told them that.

“I feel we’ve managed the squad really well and there’s been no part of the season when we’ve looked stale.

“So as I say there’s no issue with fitness it comes down to mindset. Sometimes it looks like we feel that we’ve missed our chance when the other team scores, but need to turn that into a motivational factor to get us focused on fighting back.

“Missed chances is probably what this season will be remembered for. When you look at what both sides created on Saturday we probably had the better of them, but Crusaders took theirs which is all that matters.

“The one Stevie had the keeper is literally falling as he hits it and yet Stevie somehow manages to fire it straight into his hands.

“Jamie Tomelty was very unlucky too with his effort. It would have been nice for him to have scored as it has been tough for him since he’s come here.

“Realistically though I’m preparing him and Gareth Tommons for next season and I’ll try to give him as much game time as possible between now and the end of the season.”

The Bannsiders will be without first choice central defensive pairing David Ogilby and Howard Beverland, who are both suspended.

“We’ll have to shuffle the pack again with Howard and David both suspended. Kyle McVey and Stuart McMullan will come in there to replace them,” revealed Kearney.

“Kyle played part of Monday night’s friendly to get him ready for Saturday.

“I would have liked both Kyle and Stuart to have gone with the reserves on Saturday, but ‘OG’ was struggling with a back problem so I had to make sure there was cover on the bench.

“Stuart ended up getting 90 minutes after Ruairi pulled up with a tight quad in the warm up. To be fair to him he did well after being drafted in at the last minute and he was unfortunate not to pick up a goal after his header hit Curtis on the line.”