Belfast Telegraph

Kearney hails work by old pal Connor ahead of Brandywell clash

Back on song: Oran Kearney popped in to help launch ‘Our
Coleraine Radio Station’ with Jamie Hamill, Coleraine Business Improvement District Manager
Back on song: Oran Kearney popped in to help launch ‘Our Coleraine Radio Station’ with Jamie Hamill, Coleraine Business Improvement District Manager

By Steven Beacom

Coleraine manager Oran Kearney insists he has not been shocked at the impact Sean Connor has had since taking charge of Institute and is expecting a tough test at the Brandywell on Saturday (1pm).

Having lost for the first time this season away to Warrenpoint Town, the Bannsiders bounced back with a narrow 3-2 victory at home to Carrick Rangers last weekend to return to the top of the Premiership table.

Kearney says it was pleasing to hit the winning trail again though he didn't lose any sleep over the team's invincible tag going at Milltown.

He will want his players to be wide awake for the trip to Londonderry, however, with the result against Warrenpoint showing what can happen when championship contenders are off their game against sides fighting relegation.

It didn't look good for Institute earlier in the campaign but new boss Connor has inspired something of a revival. They lost 3-1 at Glenavon on Tuesday and are only three points clear of bottom club Warrenpoint but there is greater hope now that they can maintain their place in the top flight.

Draws with Larne, Crusaders, Glentoran and Ballymena plus progress to the Bet McLean League Cup semi-finals is a sure sign of Connor's ability to surprise. Kearney is well aware Institute will be dangerous opponents come the weekend.

"I did my A Licence many years ago with Sean so the work he is doing at Institute is no surprise to me," said Kearney.

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"They have been grinding out vital points and picking up results that others may not have expected but I knew when Sean was appointed he would have Institute well organised and tough to beat.

"We are anticipating a tough encounter and know that we will have to perform well to leave with the result we want.

"At Warrenpoint we saw what happened when we didn't deliver what we are capable of so we'll go to the Brandywell ready to give it all we have."

Having produced a miracle last season to keep St Mirren in the Scottish Premiership, Kearney has lifted Coleraine to great heights in his second spell at the Showgrounds.

Suffering just one loss in their opening 17 league games and sitting at the head of the division has marked a hugely impressive start for the Bannsiders.

"I'm really proud of what the boys have done so far," says Kearney.

"I knew quite a few of the players from my first time in charge and I've been delighted with them, but the lads who I hadn't managed have been outstanding as well. Credit to them for buying into what we want to do at the club.

"The defeat at Warrenpoint was disappointing but it wasn't the end of the world for us and it was great to win against Carrick in our next game.

"Now the plan will be to go on another good run which can keep us in contention in what is a highly competitive league."

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