Belfast Telegraph

We've tasted Europe and we're hungry for more, says Coleraine striker

By Alex Mills

Striker Eoin Bradley has insisted his team will not suffer from a Europa League hangover ahead of the new Danske Premiership campaign. The Bannsiders produced a fantastic run of form at the conclusion of last season, which took them to a third place finish - and a money-spinning European slot.

They also performed in the showcase Irish Cup final, only to suffer defeat by Linfield.

However, the European experience last month brought home a harsh reality as Oran Kearny's boys suffered a 7-0 drubbing by FK Haugesund.

"We were disappointed with our performance in Norway, there is no doubt about that," said Bradley. "But I think we managed to restore a bit of pride in the home tie, which finished scoreless.

"It's a young group of players. It was all new to them. We certainly raised the bar last season by finishing third. It's going to be a big challenge to repeat, or even better that. But it's one we are all up for and looking forward to."

Coleraine's opening game is at Stangmore Park and Bradley warns: "Dungannon will be a tough opening match.

"However, it's important for us to set down a early marker. We desperately want to start the new campaign with a win.

"We've had a taste of Europe and, even though, it was a tough experience, playing in that environment is what we must strive to do on a consistent basis.

"I suppose most teams in the league would have been delighted to have achieve what we did, a spot in the Irish Cup final and the guarantee of European football. However, we were disappointed the way it ended.

"Reaching the Irish Cup final was great for the club and the supporters, but we didn't do ourselves justice. But we'll all learn from the experience. There is no point brooding over what might have been. It's a new season."

Like most of the teams with aspirations of toppling champions Linfield, the Bannsiders beefed up their squad over the summer, bringing in Josh Carson, Stephen O'Donnell, Aaron Traynor and Joe McCready.

"There's no doubt the the players that Oran has brought in will strengthen the squad. They have all been around the Irish League, they know what's expected.

"We also have a few boys out injured. When Davy Kee and Lyndon Kane return they will further strengthen the squad. Unfortunately, big James McLaughlin looks to be out long terms because of a knee injury."

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