Belfast Telegraph

Oran Kearney's return can inspire Coleraine to double glory, says Canning


On target: Aaron Canning helped Coleraine into the Kearney’s League Cup final
On target: Aaron Canning helped Coleraine into the Kearney’s League Cup final
Busy month: Oran Kearney preparing for hectic festive schedule

By Steven Beacom

Coleraine hero Aaron Canning has declared that the Bannsiders have set the bar high this season and are backing themselves against all comers.

The defender, enjoying a fabulous campaign, adds that there is belief in the dressing room that they can win the title and cup competitions.

They are certainly well placed to do so. Currently second in the table behind Crusaders on goal difference and into the BetMcLean League Cup final, it's a far cry from last season when the Bannsiders struggled.

In the campaign before under Oran Kearney, prior to his move to St Mirren, Coleraine finished runners-up to Crusaders in a thrilling title race and won the Irish Cup.

With Kearney back in charge at the Showgrounds positive feelings abound.

"We set the bar high. You look at our squad and everyone else's and we back ourselves against anybody," says Canning, ahead of today's eagerly anticipated league encounter at home to Glentoran.

"Why can we not go and win the league and the cups? Set the bar high and see where we go."

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Centre-back Canning broke the deadlock against Linfield in the League Cup semi-final at Windsor Park on Tuesday night. From there the visitors cruised to a 3-0 success.

Throw in a superb performance at the back, along with his goal, and it was a masterful display from the one-time full-back, who missed last weekend's 2-0 league defeat at Institute due to suspension.

"I'm playing well and really, really enjoying it. Long may it continue. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Being suspended last week did my head in having to watch the game. The match with Linfield couldn't come quick enough," said Canning.

"It was great to score. Every goal means something but it was nice to get the breakthrough. Then we kicked on from there."

Coleraine have beaten Linfield three times out of three this season. The record against Glentoran is won one, drew one.

Kearney is expecting a tight contest today against a club he will feels is on the up.

"We have had two tough games against then this season and full credit to them," said the Bannsiders boss.

"People say they have investment and all this money, but you still have to bring in good players and play well.

"I've seen it before where the money is there but clubs don't get it on the pitch. They are a work in progress but I have been very impressed with them this season and we will need a big performance to get three points."

Asked if fifth placed Glentoran, who are five points behind Crusaders, Coleraine and Cliftonville with a game in hand, were title contenders, Kearney replied: "Absolutely. Actions speak louder than words and to go to Cliftonville last weekend and get a win shows they are building momentum, and, with that, I'm sure the expectation is there."

December is a busy month for all Irish Premiership clubs. Kearney has spoken about the 'crazy' schedule over the festive period which sees sides play league games on Boxing Day, December 28 and January 1 before an Irish Cup tie three days later.

He added: "The Irish Cup is always big, but this season it has been magnified in relation to Europe because we have lost a European spot for next season.

"You can't quantify how big the Irish Cup is this season to any team with aspirations of getting into Europe.

"Our Irish Cup game is going to be the fifth of a run in 12 or 14 days. It's at the end of that cycle.

"That, more than anything, really hurts because you would like a fresh week going into the Irish Cup to make sure you are ready to go."

Coleraine vs Glentoran

Danske Bank Premiership

Coleraine Showgrounds, Today, 3pm

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