Belfast Telegraph

Retaining focus will be key for Coleraine, says Ogilby

By Graham Luney

Coleraine defender David Ogilby says he doesn't expect the Bannsiders to take their eye off the ball after a blistering start to the season.

Oran Kearney's side have sprinted out of the blocks and are setting the pace, four points ahead of Linfield, who visit the Showgrounds this afternoon.

The stage is set for a real top of the table heavyweight clash in the north west and there's a huge incentive for the hosts as they can open up a seven-point gap between themselves and the champions.

Linfield will be desperate to cut the men in blue and white stripes down to size, while the Bannsiders have a proud unbeaten league record to protect.

There are no indications the wheels look set to come off the Coleraine bandwagon but their title-winning credentials will be tested by a determined Linfield side today.

Ogilby is in his 15th season at the Showgrounds and now aged 33, he is desperate to win silverware before the curtain comes down on his career.

A league winner's medal would be the realisation of a dream but Ogilby insists those thoughts are at the very back of his mind.

"I still regard Linfield and Crusaders as being the two top teams in the Premiership and the sides to match," said Ogilby.

"They have been there and done that and you expect them to challenge again.

"There's a good vibe about us but we've got to keep it up if we want to reach the standards those clubs have set.

"We do want silverware and a league winner's medal would be a dream but it's not something I'm thinking about at the moment.

"I'm enjoying my football with a great team and great bunch of lads and hopefully that continues.

"It's for other people to say whether or not we can win the title, we aren't talking about that.

"We don't discriminate who we take points off, we are hungry to win every game.

"That's the attitude we have and it has served us well."

The experienced centre-back is thrilled with the way his side have channelled their Irish Cup final heartbreak into strong performances in the Premiership.

"This is certainly the best group of players I've played with at Coleraine and while it's well documented that Oran (Kearney) has blooded youngsters in the team, they are getting better through experience and the pleasing thing for me is that we haven't let the disappointment of the Irish Cup final loss to Linfield hold us back," he said.

"I said afterwards that we should use that experience to drive us on and I think the lads have done that.

"They've had a taste of a big final and that's where we want to be again.

"We've responded in the right way, even if our league position has surprised many.

"I can't really say we are doing much different than last season, we have just managed to build on our strong performances last season.

"There's a lot of belief and confidence in the squad and that is key too.

"When you're winning every week that helps but we obviously have the talent to win trophies, it's about proving it."

Ogilby knows Linfield pose a huge threat to Coleraine's unbeaten record and the champions will look to make a statement of their own today.

"It's first v second after nine games and it's a big game but no one is talking about titles," he added.

"I think you can look at the table in February and then say who's in the running.

"At the minute the lads are just enjoying their football and focused on winning every match they play. We are looking forward to playing on a Saturday and the opposition doesn't matter, it's always the three points we want.

"We will see where our form takes us.

"Everyone is delighted with the way the season has started but we finished the last campaign in good form and I'm not surprised we have pushed on.

"Linfield are the champions and they command respect.

"While our good run has been highlighted, the Blues have been phenomenal in the way they won the title last season and they have set the benchmark for the rest of the league.

"They have shown great resilience and a never say die spirit which you would expect from them.

"They also benefited from the Champions League games against Celtic and they've just played a young Dundee United team.

"It's another tough game for us but we want to stay top of the league and keep improving."

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney is looking forward to the big game. He said: "We've got to make sure that we are on it to get something out of the game but it's a big test our players will relish."

Belfast Telegraph

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