Captain's Column

Captain’s Column

COLERAINE captain Stephen O’Donnell wishes Darren McCauley the best of luck at Inverness and knows players will have to be at their best if they are to play for the club after seven additions in the January transfer window…

Two weeks since the last column and there have been two games, one win and two players in and one player out. This has been a busy period for the club and I know the manager has been working extremely hard to bring new players into the club. With that being said, losing games at home to clubs in the bottom six isn’t acceptable and something that has happened on too many occasions this season. It’s something we as players must address and with the new players bedding into the squad, the competition for places has increased. If we don’t perform, there will be someone behind you pushing for that jersey. When you have it, you must keep it. That’s why the result at home to Dungannon was so frustrating. We had put together a decent run of results, picked up some good wins and beating Dungannon would have given us the platform for this week and beyond. That hasn’t happened and we must ask why and improve quickly. Between now and the end of the season we must aim to pick up maximum points against the bottom six sides. That’s where our success has been built on in recent years and we must get back to that ruthlessness in not giving up chances easily and putting teams away when on top. Hopefully that will come back sooner rather than later.

Throughout the last two weeks we have seen Darren McCauley leave after a long drawn out transfer that I’m sure you as fans, him as a player and the club would all have liked to have been done a lot quicker. Circumstances dictated that it lasted longer that it should have but I’m sure you will all agree that we are sad to see Darren leave, but we wish him well for the rest of career and hope that he can perform well and be successful in Scotland. It’s never nice to see one of your best players leave and Darren is one of the best players in the league in my opinion. The club made a fantastic offer to Darren and I genuinely believe that they could not have done any more to try and convince him to stay – apart from handcuffing him to the Railway End stand and only letting him play home games.

With that being said, once a player has made his mind up to leave, it can be extremely difficult to find a happy medium between the club and the player. Between where the player wants to go and were the club can receive a bid that matches his value. Thankfully for him and the club, a deal was sorted and Darren has moved on. I hope that he will be remembered for his fantastic ability as opposed to the frustration of the last six weeks. His performances and goals last season were a key part of our success and how he never made it into the team of the year is beyond me. He has been one of the best players in the Irish League over the last eighteen months and I’m sure right backs up and down the country will be delighted to see the back of him. My overriding memory will be that goal in the Irish Cup final. The technique and the execution was top class and something that will be remembered in Coleraine for years. Darren was a pleasure to play with and I wish him well in the future. Whatever happens I know that successful or not in full time football, it wont be through a lack of effort. He is dedicated and hardworking and I’m sure he will do well. Good luck Dazza.

In the last few days the club have worked hard to sign Dean Shiels. A full international with a huge amount of experience from a successful full time career in England and Scotland. Hopefully Dean’s quality on the ball in the final third can be a big help to us going forward. His technical ability and versatility will be an asset to the manager and I’m sure he will be invaluable for the young players and the attacking players at the club. Both on and off the pitch I’m sure Dean can have a big influence on the squad and we all welcome him in and hopefully he can hit the ground running. I’ve mentioned before that we have good players and good people at the club and I’m sure the boys so far have all had a warm welcome. I know the boys will all help Dean settle as quickly as possible. He trained last night and looked fit and sharp straight away. He fitted straight in and I think Dean will enjoy his time at the club, hopefully it can be a successful time for us. Welcome to the club Dean, I know Lyndon and James can’t wait to hear a few good stories about Rangers.

There was also a bit of deadline day drama at The Showgrounds and I’m sure many of you were both surprised and excited when you heard the news. The club have signed Dylan King from Glenavon and we welcome Dylan into the changing room and the club. He is a young centre half who has done well at Glenavon in the first half of the season. At only 20 Dylan has the potential to be a top centre half in this league and beyond. Hopefully we as a group can help him reach that potential here at Coleraine. With the window now closed we have put together a competitive squad with options for the manager all over the pitch. This means that performance levels must remain high or you will find yourself out of the team very quickly. Something than can only bring out the best in our group. Players will be chomping at the bit to play and impress and that must start this week.

I’ve mentioned before that we have good players and good people at the club and I’m sure the boys so far have all had a warm welcome.

Finally this weekend is a massive game in the Irish Cup. A tough tie against a side who have nothing to lose. Five wins and you’re an Irish Cup winner. It sounds easy, but it’s far from that. We got through the last round relatively comfortably and now Dergview stand in our way. They are fighting for points week in, week out in the Championship and this will be a welcomed distraction for them. They will come and have a go as they have nothing to lose. They can play without fear and a with a freedom. We have enough quality in our changing room to win the game. Mentality will be the only way we don’t perform and we must ensure that doesn’t affect us. Go and play well and win the game and we’re in an Irish Cup quarter-final. Dergview have a few quality players and in particular Matthew Kirk, on loan from Coleraine and player/manager Ivan Sproule. Matty is a quality young player who will be out to impress Rodney and win the game for Dergview. Hopefully he plays well, without winning. This is a huge game for us as winning the Irish Cup last year has whet the appetite for more success. Let’s get The Showgrounds rocking and go and put ourselves in the quarter-final of the Irish Cup. What more motivation do we as a club need.

Let’s get a big crowd to The Showgrounds on Saturday, hopefully we’ll see the drum banging, the Railway End bouncing and Coleraine into the quarter-finals of the Irish Cup.

C’mon the Bannsiders!

Stephen O’Donnell