Belfast Telegraph

League-leading Coleraine will work for every win, says O'Donnell


Suspension: Stephen O’Donnell is keen to get back in after his enforced break
Suspension: Stephen O’Donnell is keen to get back in after his enforced break

By Jonathan McNabb

Coleraine defender Stephen O'Donnell is expecting a 'tough game' when the Bannsiders host Dungannon Swifts at The Showgrounds this afternoon.

The North Coast club currently lead the Danske Bank Premiership by six points, but O'Donnell insists the squad are taking nothing for granted.

"We've been preparing all week for a tough game and I wouldn't expect anything else from a good Dungannon side," O'Donnell said.

"No one in this league rolls over and gives you three points. So we know that we will have to work hard and play well to win.

"By all accounts they played well against Linfield last week, particularly in the first half. So we know we won't have it all our own way, but the quality and determination we have in our changing room, we will be looking for three important points tomorrow."

O'Donnell - who was suspended for last weekend's 3-1 victory away at Carrick Rangers - is eager to be reinstated to the squad as soon as possible.

"It was a difficult day for me last weekend having to watch the boys as I felt more nervous watching than I do when I am on the pitch," O'Donnell added.

"The boys were fantastic last weekend and I was delighted we got a well-deserved three points.

"Being suspended is difficult, but it's part and parcel of being a defender and making tackles.

"Looking to this weekend, I am desperate to get back in and play. However that decision will be made by the manager. The boys who played last week were terrific and really limited the number of chances Carrick created.

"So for me, it's about working hard and being ready to get back into the team at the earliest opportunity presented, whether that is this weekend or the next."

The summer signing from Institute was on the scoresheet the first time the two sides met this season and believes the Bannsiders have progressed since the victory at Stangmore Park.

"It feels like a long time ago since that sunny Saturday in August. Not only individually, but as a team I think we have come on leaps and bounds since the start of the season," O'Donnell continued.

"That day was a real platform for us in terms of the performance and the character we showed. Being down to ten men early in the second half, we could have fallen apart and lost the game. But the boys showed exactly what we're about and how hungry we are to win football matches and be successful together.

"So looking back to that day and where we're at now, the way we have progressed as a team both on and off the pitch and the way players have improved individually, it's a fantastic marker for us look at and keep pushing on with."

In a further boost, Oran Kearney's men completed the signing of former Derry City winger Stephen Dooley (below) last night on a six-month contract.

The 26-year-old was a major part of Cork City's double triumph last season and put pen-to-paper on a third stint at The Showgrounds - much to Kearney's satisfaction.

"I am ecstatic that Stephen has agreed a move to Coleraine," Kearney said.

"We have kept close contact the last three or four years and came very close this time last year to signing him. He has trained with us regularly over that period so he knows a lot of the players.

"He is the perfect fit of what we are looking for at the minute, he is local and has always supported Coleraine.

"He wouldn't play for any other Irish League club and we will look forward to him being available in January."

Belfast Telegraph


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