Belfast Telegraph

Tinkering didn't bear fruit but I have no regrets, insists Kearney

By Billy Weir

Oran Kearney made no apologies after his team-tinkering in the build-up to the League Cup semi-final ultimately bore no dividends. The Coleraine boss cut a dejected figure after the agony of extra-time defeat at the hands of Ballymena United.

His mood was not helped by the sense of injustice he felt over the award of a penalty for Steven Douglas' ill-judged tackle on Cathair Friel that led to Tony Kane opening the scoring.

He was to be sent to the stands for his protests by referee Evan Boyce, although TV replays prove inconclusive on whether the offence was in or out of the box.

Kearney was fuming after the game at that and the decision not to award his side a penalty at the other end when Allan Jenkins appeared to control the ball with his hand in the box.

"I just think the first goal in every game changes things massively," he said.

"It was a cracking game, it was edgy, had everything in it and looked like it was going to go to the wire.

"I have no issue in being beaten but when it comes down to a couple of decisions, and my gut is very rarely wrong, the speed of the decision was so impulsive.

"It's the first time I've been asked to leave an arena, but when it comes to a game of this magnitude and the effort that goes into it, those couple of minutes are a bit surreal for me and very hard to swallow."

As for his resting of players ahead of the derby encounter, he vowed he would do the same again.

"You can't win because the one thing we can't do, and Ballymena will say the same, is win the league," he added.

"We're not in that position, so how do you quantify success at our club?

"No matter what people think about the League Cup, for me it's a huge competition and a huge opportunity to go and compete for a piece of silverware.

"I would do it exactly the same again, I make no bones about trying to rest players, the key thing was we had our strongest possible team on the pitch."

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