COLERAINE boss Oran Kearney insists the vocal support from the stands has “a massive impact” on his players as they celebrated a 3-1 win against Larne at The Showgrounds…
Goals from Jamie Glackin and Conor McKendry – either side of Ben Doherty’s equaliser had the Stripes ahead at the interval – with the job being completed on the hour mark as Lyndon Kane rifled home from the spot.
With over 3500 fans of all ages in attendance, Kearney was thankful for the encouragement and atmosphere generated and hopes for more of the same against Cliftonville next weekend.
“I can’t underestimate and nobody can underestimate the importance of playing in front of a big crowd at home,” he told Coleraine TV.
“It was brilliant to get the numbers in tonight but the last few weeks have been quiet and nearly edgy in relation to creating that atmosphere.
“People talk about a 12th man and the importance of the crowd and how it can impact a home team in particular.
“I can tell you that inside the changing room the impact it has on the players is phenomenal and to hear that drum go from before the whistle and through the full game, it is infectious and encourages others to sing along.
“The place was rocking and it makes such an impact.
“We have Cliftonville next Saturday, it is going to be another high level game but we need that same level of noise and hostile atmosphere to make this place a fortress.”
Kearney pointed out the significance of McKendry’s strike just before the half-time whistle but acknowledged his side carried no passengers throughout the contest.
“We are delighted with the performance,” he added.
“To win games against sides of Larne’s calibre and everything else you need to be on the money from front to back and we got that tonight.
“It was a really solid performance from Gareth right through to Matthew – the lads were brilliant.
“It was a nice time to get the second goal.
“I thought our start was good and it was great finish by Glacks but we switched off for ten seconds or so and great play by them resulted in a superb finish by Ben as well.
“Big credit to Conor as people have lauded how he’s played this year but the one thing we’ve said numerous times is that he loves to shoot.
“There was a game against Linfield earlier this year where he scored with his sixth shot.
“Tonight he hasn’t had that many opportunities but the minute he gets into that area, there is only one thing on his mind.
“You don’t get that luck of the deflection, you don’t get that ricochet that takes the ball into the net if you don’t have a shot, so full credit to him as it was a big goal for us.”
The boss handed a first start to 17-year-old Patrick Kelly and he certainly didn’t disappoint as he was given a standing ovation for his performance.
Despite admitting his excitement at the progress the Portstewart native has made, Kearney has challenged him to continue hitting that standard in the weeks and months ahead.
“We were dangerous, we didn’t have any passengers and you can’t have any in games like this,” he continued.
“You don’t win against teams like Larne if you carry anyone and throughout all aspects of the pitch you can’t ask for any more from the players.
“I thought he was excellent.
“It was ideally how I thought his debut would go as we’ve all seen in close quarters in recent months the quality that he has.
“It was trying to choose that right moment to get him in there but also to protect him.
“I’ve no doubt he’s been ready for the last three or four weeks to make that step but I just felt tonight was the right time to do that.
“The game for him was how you’d expect it – a bit edgy at the start but as the game went on he grew and grew and grew.
“His second performance was superb and his game intelligence in terms of how he uses the ball and wins his free-kicks was really good.
“It’s exciting but it’s only one game and hopefully it’s the first of many more to come.
“He’s set his bar now and that’s the standard and it’s important he stays there.”