Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Bannsiders won't get carried away just yet: Kearney

Coleraine 4 Glenavon 2

By Graham Luney

Title talk may be banned in the Coleraine dressing room but that won't stop everyone else around the country whispering the question: 'Can the Bannsiders win the league championship this season?'

There's a perfect storm being whipped up in the north-west and the rest of the country is sitting up and taking notice.

Five wins out of five represents a perfect start for Oran Kearney's men, who now top the Danske Bank Premiership table, and perhaps we shouldn't be surprised after the Showgrounds aces went on an incredible unbeaten run last season to finish third.

The Irish Cup final may have been a nightmare finish to the season but Coleraine have now earned their place among the league's top three, with the Bannsiders, champions Linfield and Crusaders the best equipped sides to challenge for the top domestic prize.

Kearney has deservedly been named the BetMcLean Manager of the Month for August by the NI Football Writers, and he received his award from Paul McLean before Saturday's game (above right), and it won't be his solitary individual honour this campaign if his side's form is anything to go by.

On Saturday Glenavon found them too hot to handle with even Lurgan Blues boss Gary Hamilton admitting: "They battered us at times. We didn't have the same energy levels or intensity that we've had in previous games but, to be fair, Coleraine didn't let us do that. They were the better team if I'm being honest."

The handsome 4-2 victory was Glenavon's first defeat of the campaign but it will take something special to stop the Bannsiders' bandwagon with Crusaders already swept aside at Seaview.

With Linfield on IRN BRU Cup duty in Scotland, Kearney's men took full advantage. Darren McCauley's cheeky dinked penalty opened the scoring and Adam Foley headed in a leveller before Josh Carson slotted home.

It was 3-1 when McCauley curled into the top corner but Glenavon hit back again with Andrew Mitchell poking in early in the second half.

Harkin smashed one in off the crossbar from 18 yards to seal the impressive win and McCauley is hoping his side can stay in the groove.

"We could have scored more," he said. "On another day we could have shown more composure but we are delighted with the win. I'll admit it was a cheeky penalty and I probably won't try it again but I thought why not?"

Kearney said: "It was a crazy type of game and there could have been more goals.

"I'm disappointed we conced­ed twice at home, but I suppose when second is playing third you expect that."

Last month the Bannsiders won their first four league games of the season and booked their place in the next round of the BetMcLean League Cup with a win over Larne.

Reflecting on league wins over Dungannon Swifts, Cliftonville, Crusaders and Warrenpoint Town, Kearney said: "It's been a fantastic start to the season and I'm delighted for our players.

"It's a great honour to win this award but I don't see it as a personal award, I am just representing the club that won the award. Ultimately, it's the boys that went onto the pitch and won those games.

"We've had a fantastic start to the season but we're not getting carried away. We will continue to work hard and see where that takes us."

Kearney added: "I'd like to thank the football writers and their sponsors BetMcLean for their support."

Coleraine: Johns, Mullan, Harkin, Ogilby, McCauley, Bradley, Carson, Lyons, O’Donnell, Parkhill (McCready 88), Traynor. Subs not used: Douglas, Kirk, Doherty, Whiteside.

Glenavon: Tuffey, Burns (Daniels 50), Kelly, Marshall, Mitchell, Hall, Sykes, Marron, Clingan, (Doyle 61), Foley (Griffin 67), Singleton. Subs not used: McGrory, Jenkins.

Referee: Andrew Davey (Bangor)

Man of match: Darren McAuley

Match rating: 7/10

Belfast Telegraph

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