Captain's Column

Captain’s Column

COLERAINE skipper Stephen O’Donnell has welcomed the latest arrivals to The Showgrounds and admits he is kicking and heading every ball as he eyes a return to full fitness…

As the January transfer window has progressed, it’s been a busy time for us as a club. We’ve had five new players arrive, two departures, one dodgy photoshop attempt and throughout it all, have still kept the momentum moving forward on the pitch.

That’s been the most important thing for me. Keeping the momentum moving forward on the pitch. Since that poor performance and result against Glenavon in December, we’ve won four out of our last six. The two performances in the draws were also positive as we felt we could and should have won both of them games. That also makes it easier for new signings coming in. Joining a changing room who is winning and playing well always makes it easier to settle in. We have a really good bunch of lads who all want to do well. I’m sure the new boys will settle in and feel at home straight away.

Since my last column, Rodney and those working behind the scenes at Coleraine have been extremely busy. They have been working non stop on setting up potential deals and getting them over the line. They have been working hard throughout the month and I think that’s reflected in the number of signings we have made. Since my last column we have brought in Mark Edgar, Cormac Burke and Dylan Davidson, with Andy Whiteside going on loan to Tobermore.

Mark is someone who knows the club really well, having only been away for 18 months. He comes back in having gained first team experience and being involved in a dogfight with Carrick last season. That disappointment of a relegation will push him on and stand him in good stead. You all know what he’s about and he has a good left foot which can be a threat, as we seen last season for ourselves when he scored against us. He’s young and hungry to prove a point that he belongs at this level. He also brings competition for places which can only be a good thing.

Cormac Burke is another Derry lad who I know well. We played together growing up and at Institute a few years ago. Burkey is versatile and has good technical ability, as he showed in that League Cup win for Dungannon last season. For him and for us, it’s about making sure he delivers on that quality week after week. He has he ability to change a game, let’s hope he can produce it for us. He also comes in with a point to prove and hoping that this can be his platform to express himself and show that he is a top Irish league player. He knows he manager well and hopefully Coleraine can be the perfect fit for him.

I’m sure the new boys will settle in and feel at home straight away.

Finally Dylan Davidson comes in from Glentoran and he is a young player who has done well any time I have seen him. I know the manager has liked him for a while and he comes with that natural left foot and real ability to cross the ball. Something I know our strikers will be delighted about. Dylan has big potential and Coleraine is the perfect platform for him to deliver on that. Any young players with potential to move into full time football should be looking at Coleraine and the number of players who have moved on to that from out club in the last 18 months. This club has a fantastic record of developing players and moving them on into full time football. Hopefully Dylan can realise that fantastic potential he has here at The Showgrounds.

The three boys have been warmly welcomed into the changing room and I’m sure they will settle quickly and find their way onto the pitch to show what they can do sooner rather than later. That’s the thing with new signings. Not only does it give the fans and the media a lift, it gives players a lift collectively and individually. Competition for places breeds hunger and desire and pushes players to be the best they can be. Hopefully we can kick on and have a strong finish to the season.

Finally, after the busy week we have an important game away to Ards. For me this has the potential to be a frustrating evening if we don’t prepare and have the right mentality to get a result. Ards will make it difficult but we must overcome that. We’ve seen how they play twice this season already and we know what to expect. We have enough quality and options to go and win the game. I’m confident the boys will do that and we can go into the weekend with three points. Each game becomes massive for us now and three points is essential every week. It doesn’t matter who we play, we need to get back to the mentality of three points every week. It doesn’t matter who’s in the way. Three points, no matter what. It feels as though the momentum and confidence has returned to or changing room and hopefully we can kick on.

Finally, it’s been a long six weeks out injured for myself and I’m hoping to be back in the next two to three weeks. I’m not someone who likes being injured or someone deals well with not playing. I’ve been heading and kicking every ball on a Saturday and I can’t wait to get back to just worrying about defending. This break has made me desperate to get back and hopefully its sooner rather than later. Also Lyndon Kane has had his surgery today and we all wish him well on his recovery. He’ll be back stronger.

Let’s get a good support to Ards tomorrow, I know how much you love an away trip. You can be the difference tomorrow.

C’mon the Bannsiders!

Stephen O’Donnell