Belfast Telegraph

Linfield's league game should have been postponed ahead of Europa League history, admits Coleraine boss Kearney after Windsor win

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney bagged the first win of his second spell with the Bannsiders.
Coleraine boss Oran Kearney bagged the first win of his second spell with the Bannsiders.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney says he has every sympathy with his oppositie number after walking away with a 4-2 victory at Windsor Park.

Linfield, of course, became the first Irish League team ever to reach the Europa League Play-Off round when they got past FK Sutjeska on Tuesday.

This Thursday, they host Azerbaijani champions Qarabag in the first leg, with the prize of a group spot on the line.

It was through that prism that even victorious manager Kearney was viewing his side's win on Saturday afternoon.

He admitted that, in his view, the game should not have gone ahead as originally scheduled, even if the Blues' opponents Qarabag also played this weekend, eding Inter Baku in the Premier League on Friday evening.

"I said to David (Healy - Linfield manager) after the game, and I'm not being patronising because I would have said it win, lose or draw, I don't think this fixture should have been played today," he told the BBC.

"I get in England or Scotland when teams are playing in group stages, they go Thursday night and then Sunday. Most of our European trips are finished by the middle of July. We're used to that.

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"We are all screaming about the co-efficient and trying to improve things yet when a team makes the strides that Linfield made to get to the position they're in...I just think from what they came off the back of on Tuesday night, we just preyed on that and knew there would be a lethargy.

"We knew we would get opportunities because of what has happened and what is about to happen this week as well.

"I would have understood (if the game had been postponed).  The fact that they have punched above the weight and they have the opportunity for something historic, I think that preparation time should be really key.

"We're delighted with the three points but that was something we were going after."

Linfield boss David Healy, unsurprisingly, was in agreement as he looked ahead to an historic occassion for the league as a whole.

"We understand that we need to play league games, we don't want to fall too many games behind," he told the BBC, after his side's match against Ballymena United was postponed last Tuesday.

"But next Thursday we are going into probably the biggest game any Northern Irish club has had in their history.

"When the game is thrown on you it's a difficult one."

Coleraine were three up after 61 minutes and, after Joel Cooper and Shayne Lavery hauled the Blues back within a goal, it took Ryan McGivern's red card to ease the pressure ahead of Emmett McGuckin's clincher.

"You get those thoughts when you're worried that surge is going to come," admitted Kearney. "There was a good result here last year but there was also one that we were 2-0 up and lost 3-2 so you know Linfield have that in their locker. We're delighted to come through with the three points."

It's Coleraine's first win since Kearney's summer return.

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