Belfast Telegraph

We start every season aiming to win the league, says Coleraine manager

Coleraine 3 Carrick Rangers 0

By Jonathan McNabb

Coleraine manager Oran Kearney admitted his players were on 'cloud nine' after securing their seventh successive victory in the Danske Bank Premiership.

The home side missed several gilt-edged chances, before taking a deserved lead on the half-hour mark when defender David Ogilby swept home a well-taken volley from Brad Lyons' knock down.

The Bannsiders doubled their advantage on 59 minutes via Darren McCauley's spot-kick after Denver Gage was adjudged to have obstructed Jamie McGonigle inside the penalty area.

The victory was sealed when the in-form McCauley added his second on 66 minutes.

In truth, the league leaders should have stretched their lead even further with Eoin Bradley striking the post, before Lyons' header cannoned off the crossbar from Aaron Traynor's delivery.

David McAlinden's side rarely threatened and ended the match with 10 men as Gavin Taggart received his marching orders for a two-footed tackle on Ciaron Harkin.

The result means Coleraine remain top of the table, but boss Kearney believes talk of winning the title is premature.

"When I was manager of Limavady United and during my six-and-a-half years here I have always had the intention of winning the league when the season gets under way," Kearney said.

"It is no different this year as there is no point in being defeatist. However, there is no point in discussing if we can win the league because we are just focused on winning matches."

Kearney admitted he was 'delighted' that his players maintained their perfect start to the new campaign.

"We knew Carrick would come here with a game plan and to defend strongly, but we are delighted to secure the three points," Kearney added.

"There are no easy games in this league and it took us a long time in the first-half to break Carrick down. From Christmas onwards we have hit a gear which has been the best since I have been manager at the club.

"That has continued through pre-season and the start of the new campaign."

McCauley's second-half brace means the midfielder has now scored seven goals in his last five matches, and Kearney has heaped praise on the former Institute player.

"Darren has always been a good player and had a spell with us a few years ago," Kearney revealed. "I persuaded him back 18 months later and he has worked hard and is coming into the prime of his career. Last year he showed signs of progress by hitting nine goals, but he's already on eight for the season."

Kearney believes his side will face a 'difficult' challenge when they take on Glentoran at The Oval next weekend.

"We are on cloud nine because securing one win in this league is difficult, never mind seven," said the Stripes boss.

"We will get the players in for training this week and look forward to a difficult match against Glentoran."

Carrick manager David McAlinden said: "I just think on certain occasions we didn't get the rub of the green from the officials but that's football

"I thought we played quite well in the first-half and were good with the ball in stages, but it was a difficult day."

Coleraine: Johns, Mullan, Harkin, Ogilby, McCauley (McCready, 90 mins), Bradley, Carson (Parkhill, 61 mins), Lyons, O'Donnell, Traynor, McGonigle. Unused subs: Douglas, Kirk, Whiteside.

Carrick: Doherty, Smyth, Edgar, Surgenor, Gage, Chapman (Smith, 67 mins), Taggart, Maybin (Malone, 76 mins), McAllister, McMullan, Mooney (Morrow, 71 mins). Unused subs: McNally, Rice.

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)

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