Belfast Telegraph

League-leading Coleraine won't get above their station, vows Kearney


By Alex Mills

Oran Kearney insists he will have no problem keeping his Coleraine high-flyers grounded.

The impressive Bannsiders have now led the way at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table for over three months - and they have no intention of letting their title challenge wilt.

They go into the weekend action protecting a six-point lead over Crusaders, who have played one game fewer.

Crafty Kearney will never be one to shout from the rooftops, even though his team are now considered genuine title candidates, but he knows three points on the road at Ballinamallard United tomorrow will harden his boys' resolve even further.

Coleraine have lost only once so far - and that was a closely-fought affair against Linfield at Windsor Park.

They are now a team of winners, but Kearney stresses that trophies are not handed out at this time of the year.

"I don't take time to even think about it," he said. "That's not being evasive or anything else. It's one game at a time -that's the way we play it.

"I've said it numerous times, I've been on the opposite side in our dressing room in terms of not knowing where our next win was coming from and there are a lot of players who were in there with me.

"There is no one getting on their high horse, there will be no one getting above their station and there is no one thinking they are better than they are.

"We really do keep ourselves grounded. It has worked tremendously well for us to date. I'm a big fan of the phrase, 'If something isn't broken, there's no need to fix it'.

"We have big games coming up with Linfield, Cliftonville and Ballymena United, but we are not thinking along those lines.

"Our biggest game at the moment is Ballinamallard United - that's all that we are looking at. The other matches will take care of themselves."

Kearney's men were fortunate to survive the big freeze last weekend, but they were made to fight for their three points against a battling Dungannon Swifts at the Showgrounds.

"You don't get anything easy in this league, which I keep preaching to the players," said the former Ballymena United and Linfield midfielder. "We started sluggishly, but I have to give Dungannon credit because they started tremendously well.

"They tried to stay in the game for as long as possible and give it a right go. We had to make sure we showed good discipline. Once we got the goal in the first half it helped settle us down a bit.

"A 1-0 win and a clean sheet is as good a victory as you'll get."

Kearney also hailed the performance of his goalkeeper Chris Johns, who made a couple of telling second-half saves.

"Chris was the first person I spoke about in the dressing room afterwards," he added. "He was a spectator for large parts of the game, but he had great concentration levels to produce two wonderful saves when needed.

"If I'm being honest, I would expect that of Chris because he is that type of guy. I believe he is right up there with the best goalkeepers in the league.

"It was a good three points, but now our focus is on Ferney Park, where we have to do it all over again."

Coleraine will be without Josh Carson as he has picked up a one-game ban after accumulating five bookings.

Belfast Telegraph


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