RYAN McIlmoyle capped off an impressive season as he made it a clean sweep of end of season honours on Saturday night.
The midfielder, who has made the move to full back seamlessly this season, picked up the colerainefc.com Player of the Year award, the Coleraine Times sponsored Players’ Player of the Year trophy and the Garvagh, Kilrea and District Supporters’ Club Player of the Year gong at their awards evening in the Social Club.
Boss Oran Kearney heaped praise on McIlmoyle afterwards.
“I think we’ve had a few really consistent performers through the season, but for me Ryan is a worthy winner,” he said.
“He has shown fantastic levels of consistency and although it’s a relatively new position to him, I would say he’s up there with the best left backs in the league.
“The change of position has been good for him and I’d hope to see his progress continue next season.”
Also picking up awards were Joel Bradley and Craig Moore, with Kearney hinting that both would have a bigger role to play next season.
“I’m expecting big things in the long-term from both those players,” he continued. “Both will be part of the squad again next season and they will be better players for their experiences this time around.
“They’ve had their bedding-in period and now is the time for them to really push on.”
Kearney has also challenged the rest of the team to push on next season.
“We probably punched slightly above our weight last season,” he said.
“We may have finished lower in the table this year, but there’s quite a similarities between this year and last.
“Top six is a fantastic achievement. Some think it’s easy as you’ve six places to aim for. But when you throw in the likes of Linfield, Glentoran, Crusaders and Cliftonville they will always be top six because of structures.
“Then you have Portadown who have a big budget so that leave one place to fight for.
“So the last two seasons have given us stability but we have to kick on next season.
“You could say silverware is the next big step for us, but for me the next step is European football. It brings with it a big financial backing, but the first year we do qualify we have to make sure and do it the following season.
“That will follow the same route that Crusaders and Cliftonville followed four or five years ago.
“Securing European football on a regular basis and its financial rewards allows you to go and punch with the big boys.
“I stand over our squad and we have shown that we can beat anyone on our day, but the key thing to push us on is consistency, we have to produce it week in, week out.
“In my first year I brought in a lot of players in the summer and it was the same last year, but that number will come down this summer and to me that’s a sign of progression.
“We are also making good strides in the Reserves and Colts and it’s great to see the likes of Craig Moore and Joel Bradley make the breakthrough into the first team.”
One big development for Coleraine in the summer months would be the successful pursuit of a new pitch at The Showgrounds and Kearney has renewed his calls for the fans to keep up the pressure.
“I’d urge everyone to get on board in our campaign to bring a new 3G pitch to The Showgrounds as it would really help the whole club progress,” said Kearney.
“It would be a massive catalyst for the whole community and it would be a massive step in the right direction for us.”