Belfast Telegraph

Second means nothing, McAllister warns Coleraine

Past glory: Pat McAllister lifts the Irish Cup with Coleraine
Past glory: Pat McAllister lifts the Irish Cup with Coleraine

By Steven Beacom

Coleraine legend Pat McAllister would love to see his old club win the double this season, warning that second place in the Irish League or Irish Cup will count for nothing come May.

McAllister, a midfield giant at the Showgrounds, was the last man to skipper the Bannsiders to a major trophy when he delivered a superhero-type performance against Grand Slam-chasing Glentoran to inspire Coleraine to a 1-0 win in the 2003 Irish Cup final.

Now in charge of Intermediate club Sport & Leisure, McAllister continues to keep a close eye on Coleraine and has been hugely impressed with the efforts of Oran Kearney and his players.

Today, Coleraine take on Championship outfit Larne in the Tennent's Irish Cup semi-final at the Ballymena Showgrounds and on Tuesday will travel to Seaview to face leaders Crusaders in a monumental Danske Bank Premiership showdown with just two points between the sides at the top.

Approaching the business end of the campaign, McAllister hopes Coleraine have learnt from last season's Irish Cup final when they lost 3-0 to Linfield.

"I was there and I felt Coleraine were too nice on the day," said McAllister. "They showed Linfield far too much respect and I'm hoping that they have learnt from it.

"If I was giving them advice for between now and the end of the season they have to be prepared to win ugly. It's all about results now.

"To reach another final they have to get past Larne, who with their players now are like a Premiership side on the pitch. They'll have to show them the same respect as they would do against a Cliftonville or Linfield and I'm sure Oran will make sure that happens.

"Then they have the massive league game with Crusaders. My own belief is that runners-up medals don't mean anything and this Coleraine side are in with an unbelievable chance to put trophies on the table.

"Everything is in their hands because while they are two points behind they still have to play the Crues. For me the message is, 'Don't have any regrets and be thinking I wish I had done this or that'. Second place is no good.

"Coleraine have only lost one league game all season so you have to give credit to Crusaders for being ahead of them with five matches left. People may say finishing second would still be a great season but it won't be given how far they've come and Oran will know that."

McAllister adds that manager Kearney deserves much praise for how he has built the team into trophy challengers and for sticking it out when criticism was flying.

"Oran has been unbelievable," said the ex-Cliftonville ace. "It wasn't that long ago that Oran was being criticised. People say the board deserve an enormous amount of credit for staying with him but Oran deserves even more.

"It's easy to go to the board and say, 'This isn't working out' but he showed brilliant character."

Belfast Telegraph


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