Captain's Column

Captain’s Column

COLERAINE skipper Stephen O’Donnell admits Saturday’s result against Glenavon wasn’t good enough but hopes things can be put right in the Irn-Bru Challenge Cup this weekend…

It’s safe to say that last week wasn’t the result and particularly the performance that we had hoped for. I had written last week that I thought this game could have given us a real lift. That was with the intention that we performed well and got a positive result. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the way it turned out. We were well beaten by a good Glenavon side and our performance wasn’t were we would have hoped it would be. When agreeing to take this column, one thing that I was adamant about was that if I did it, I would only agree if I could choose what to write about and I could be honest in what I wrote. To be fair to the club, they have allowed me that and I hope you’ve read the column so far and been able to see that everything I write I am open and honest about. With that being said, I can be honest with you and say that as disappointed and frustrated I am about our performance on Saturday and the result. I’m not disappointed that the justification for drawing games and not playing well, saying that its okay because were still unbeaten, has gone. Having a number of draws so far this season and a number of below par performances, saying that we are still unbeaten has been papering over the cracks. Now believe me, there is no panic stations or big worry for us as a group that the performances aren’t right up where we want them to be yet, but now that we have lost, it’s the perfect opportunity to reset, refocus and go again.

All the talk has been about continuing a run from last season, how long can it stretch and to be fair to everyone at the club, it was something to be proud of. A long unbeaten run shows a lot about the character of not only the group of players and staff, but the club itself. I genuinely feel that its something we can look back on and be proud of, as the manager had said on Saturday. But now its time to move on. Its time to create another run. Can we go and get three points? Can we win back to back? Can we build the momentum again? It is time to start putting in the positive performances that the staff have been demanding and that Rodney and you as fans deserve, to get our season up and running. But there is no point in me writing this and hoping it will happen. We as a group need to improve both individually and collectively and with two weeks of training and an IRN-BRU Cup tie before our next league game against Crues, we have a real opportunity to put the work in and be ready for that game at The Showgrounds.

Last week’s game will be one that hurts us until we get a chance to play Glenavon again. The goals that we conceded weren’t good enough for us. The fact that we had taken the lead in the game and weren’t able to keep it until half time was disappointing and then to concede on the break when we looked like equalising was another frustrating aspect. Glenavon are a good side, there is no doubting that. They played on Saturday like a team who deserve to be top of the league and they are playing with the confidence that brings with it. It’s tough to take positives in a game were you are well beaten like that, but if there is one, it was young Alex Gawne. Alex has had to be patient this year, he earned himself a squad number and a place in the first team squad in preseason where he was very impressive. He then played against Warrenpoint where he done really well, and he has had to be patient since. To be fair to Alex he has really impressed me and the boys. He has a lot of quality and for a young player it’s about finding that consistency in your game. Making sure that the quality comes out every time you get the ball, not in drips and drabs. For me the most impressive thing about Alex has been his attitude. He works hard every Tuesday and Thursday, he is eager to listen and learn and he his hungry to work hard for the team and improve himself as a player. Now you would think that would be a given for any young player but believe me it’s not. There are a lot of young players who could learn from Alex and the example he is setting. It has been great to watch him improve so far and at 17, I think he has the potential to be a fantastic player for Coleraine. He will only get better.

It is time to start putting in the positive performances that the staff have been demanding and that Rodney and you as fans deserve, to get our season up and running.

A break from the league this week sees us over to Wales to play Connah’s Quay Nomads in the IRN-BRU Cup. I would love a league game to get three points and correct the wrongs from last week, but this match will be good for us as a group. A one-off tie in which we have to attack and win the game, perfect. Right up our street. A chance to play against a top side who are leading the Welsh league and will put it up to us, perfect. This weekend’s game is a chance for us to improve and build to try and push on next week against the Crues. But make no mistake, we’re playing a quality side and we will have to produce a quality performance to get a result. Added to this weekend’s game is the chance to get away with the boys and get a break from the league. Maybe something that will bring us together and enjoy each others company and have a good team bonding session. Those really help throughout the season and the chance to bring everyone together right now, is just what we need. Also it’s a chance for you as fans to have welcomed trip away and hopefully an enjoyable weekend where you have plenty of beers, which I’m sure you will, and hopefully see Coleraine progress into the next round.

Finally, it has been a tough couple of weeks and our unbeaten run is over. It’s not the end of the world. It’s our opportunity to regroup and build something together again. Put a run of results together again with a new stamp and lets see where it takes us. To all the fans travelling this weekend, hopefully you have a great trip and hopefully we can get a win to make it a great weekend.

C’mon the Bannsiders!

Stephen O’Donnell