Belfast Telegraph

Coleraine players will prove we can thrive despite upheaval, says Lowry

By Graham Luney

Coleraine ace Stephen Lowry says the players must show their mettle and silence the doubters who expect the wheels to fall off the Bannsiders' bandwagon.

Oran Kearney has left to take charge of St Mirren, sparking a managerial search in the north west with Dungannon Swifts chief Rodney McAree set to be unveiled as their new boss tonight.

McAree will walk into a dressing room packed with talent and ambition as the players who won the Irish Cup in May look to go one better than last season's runner-up finish in the Danske Bank Premiership.

All eyes will be on Coleraine to see how they adapt to life without Kearney, who transformed the club from a struggling side into an Irish League heavyweight.

In fact, it seemed entirely appropriate that Kearney's last game in charge was a convincing 3-0 win at the home of Crusaders.

The former Linfield midfielder finds himself plotting the downfall of Brendan Rodgers' Celtic tonight in a real baptism of fire.

Meanwhile, the Bannsiders players must show it will be business as usual, with their trip to Ards tomorrow suddenly becoming one of the most important games of the season.

Rivals are now hoping the Coleraine machine will crumble and midfielder Lowry says he understands why questions are being asked.

"One hundred per cent, people will wonder how I react and I ask myself those questions too," admitted Lowry. "It's only natural that people will say we will struggle but we need to be strong as players and I think we will because we have a really good changing room.

"We have lost a key player in Brad Lyons (to Blackburn) and now our manager... it will test our mettle and questions will be asked but you have to deal with these things and come through them.

"If we can put in good performances, this period will be forgotten. It's important to keep winning and we will see what we are made of.

"We have got good quality in the team, dangerous players up front and we are also solid at the back.

"There's no doubting the players' ability. I know people will have their doubts about us but there is no better feeling in football than proving people wrong and we want to keep going in the right direction and winning trophies.

"A few negative results and we will come under pressure. The only way to avoid that is to get a good win under our belts and then we won't look back."

Lowry might not have returned to Coleraine in the summer if it hadn't been for the persuasive powers of Kearney.

"I wish him all the best," he said. "I was gutted he did leave because he signed me and it was one of the big reasons why I returned to Coleraine. Linfield had put pressure on me to sign a new deal and if it wasn't for Oran I might have done that.

"But I wish him well and I've no doubt he will be a success, he's a top manager and great person. I think the St Mirren players will love him as I've only had good experiences with him."

Kearney said an emotional farewell at the Showgrounds on Saturday where Coleraine edged out Formartine United on penalties in the Irn-Bru Challenge Cup.

"Saturday was a bit weird because Oran came to the match and we all knew it was going to be emotional," added Lowry. "There were so many distractions that it showed on the pitch. We were the better team but couldn't put the ball in the back of the net. We were a bit frustrated but the best team went through."

Former Northern Ireland captain Steve Lomas and Institute boss Paddy McLaughlin were linked with the Coleraine job but McAree was the board's choice.

"It's a good job," said Lowry. "We have a good backroom team in Trevor McKendry, Winkie (William Murphy) and Paul Owens.

"Not much has changed although there will be slight changes when the new manager comes in. When he does he'll be working with good, ambitious players."

Belfast Telegraph

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