‘The players will all come back stronger for what happened’ - Oran

It won’t go down as the most memorable season in Coleraine’s history but Oran Kearney believes it could be a defining one.

Speaking at the Garvagh, Kilrea and District Supporters’ Club awards night on Saturday the Bannsiders boss said the experience of the last year will stand his squad in good stead.

Hugh Wade presents the Player of the Year trophy to  Howard Beverland.

Hugh Wade presents the Player of the Year trophy to Howard Beverland.

“Looking back at the season in the first 11 games we easily played the best football we have done during my time here, but we only picked up six or seven points during that time,” said Kearney.

“It’s unbelievable for me to be able to stand and admire the football, but we all know that playing good football doesn’t put points on the board.

“Then we lost three senior players in Ruairi Harkin, Howard Beverland and Stevie Lowry for a huge part of the season. It was the first time in my tenure that those guys didn’t play 40 plus games in a season.

“That was around the same time we went into the losing streak. But I was able to take a massive positive out of it. It builds character and there is no hiding place because the lads knew that come 3pm every Saturday they would have to go out and do it again.

“I’ve played a lot of games in this league and I know at other times when teams go on runs like this it can lead to fractions in the squad and cliques form.

“But the biggest compliment I can give our lads is during that time there was no cliques and everyone stuck together. I know a lot of other teams in the league wouldn’t have survived it so I salute or players for coming through that.”

Kearney also praised the work going on at Reserves and Colts level.

“We now have a very promising Reserves and Colts set up and I would like to thank Johnny Law and all the coaches for all their hard work,” he said.

“For the first time in my time here we now have players who are capable of pushing the first teamers for their place.

“Both Lee Lindsay and Adam Mullan have shown up really well in the games they featured in. They are not fully polished and they’ve a bit of weight to put on more than anything else.

“The two of them have big chances for a career in the Irish League as they’ve both shown enough in the games they’ve played.”

Club chairman thanked the efforts of General Manager Dessie Brown, who is stepping down.

“We’ve been very fortunate over the last few years to have someone like Dessie involved in the club,” said Colin.

“Dessie is a font of knowledge in terms of the local game and there have been other club who have contacted him for advice down the years.

“Dessie’s departure leaves a big void, but we have taken our time to appoint his successor. And we have a very capable man to replace Dessie in Hunter McClelland.”