Coleraine to kick on with Lowry still around
Coleraine's summer transfer business has been a case of welcoming back a homecoming hero and holding on to the one that nearly got away.
Stephen Lowry had a brief flirtation with Linfield but decided his relationship with the Bannsiders was worth continuing.
Despite holding talks with Blues boss David Jeffrey, the stylish midfielder opted to prolong his stay at the north-west club.
It was a huge boost to boss Oran Kearney who was beginning to think he had lost his star man and the Showgrounds supremo was also dancing a jig of delight when former Glentoran winger Stephen Carson agreed to resume his love affair with Coleraine.
"We never wanted to lose Stephen (Lowry) but, like other clubs, we have had to reduce our budget substantially," said Kearney.
"The fact that Stephen signed an extension to his contract to take it up to three years is significant as well. It gives us a good chance to kick on from where we are.
"I'm sure other clubs were interested in Stephen (Carson) but thankfully for us he is a homebird.
"To be fair to him he didn't speak to too many and he was quite keen to come home once he had made his mind up about what he was doing.
"I think we have maybe eight or nine players out and only four in so I think we are moving onto a Portadown-based template and going with quality rather than quantity.
"With that you run the risk of injury badly disrupting your season. It's vitally important we keep our best players fit."
Coleraine's opening clashes aren't for the faint-hearted. A trip to Glentoran brings the curtain up on their season, followed by a home game against Portadown, away to Glenavon, home to Crusaders then on the road to Cliftonville.
"They are all tough games," said Kearney. "Again, I don't see any easy games in the league.
"But we've had no big injuries and that's the most important aspect of pre-season."