Coleraine 2 Dungannon Swifts 1
With just one defeat in the 11 Carling Premiership games he has been in charge at Coleraine, Oran Kearney has reasons to be cheerful.
The Showgrounds boss refuses to be negative about the impending departures of experienced players, arguing that change will be positive.
“I have plenty of targets for next season in terms of new players and expecting to be very busy recruiting in the next couple of months,” says Kearney whose team hit the 50 points mark at the weekend with a first victory over Dungannon Swifts in four attempts.
“It’s important to make progress next year and ensure a top six finish no matter who exits and arrives during the summer.”
Kearney, who has lost only twice in the 14 games he has been in charge, remains upbeat about what lies ahead even though he is not expected to hold onto top marksman Leon Knight who bagged two more goals to reach 16 for the season.
“I have every confidence we will be even stronger next season and build on what has been started,” added Kearney.
“Players come and go. That is the nature of the game and you have to move on.”
Kearney was pleased with the attitude of his players in bouncing back from a goal down against Dungannon.
Keeper Gavin Cullen, now confirmed as the Showgrounds number one with 39-year-old Davy O'Hare prepares to play his final games against Donegal Celtic and hometown club Newry City, underlined his ability early on, using his legs to block Michael Ward's penalty after he was had been harshly penalised for bringing down winger Ryan McIlmoyle as he clearly got a touch on the ball.
Dermot McCaffrey’s header from a McIlmoyle corner beat Cullen after 11 minutes but Stephen Carson and Darren Boyce set up Knight for a superb finish to equalise from 10 yards.
Knight doubled his tally before the break heading in winger Ryan Docherty’s deep cross at the far post.