Captain's Column

Captain’s Column

BANNSIDERS captain Stephen O’Donnell praises his team-mates for securing a vital victory against Cliftonville in his latest weekly column…

Hi everyone, it was great to hear that last week’s column was well received and it was great that so many people took the time out to read it. The positive feedback was much appreciated and I hope you continue to enjoy them as the weeks go on. Looking back at last week’s performance and result, I feel that it was it was a big performance and a big statement to the rest of the league. Yes, we’re only two games in, but going away and beating one of your rivals sends a real message to other clubs. Last season was not a flash in the pan, Coleraine aren’t going away any time soon. This is a special group who are all hungry to achieve success together and last season has only whet the appetite. Many people would have been expecting us to drop points against a good Cliftonville side, but the lads showed what we’re all about.

Our performance last week was particularly pleasing when you look at the number of clear cut chances we created. On another day we might have won by a bigger margin, but that sharpness and ruthlessness in front of goal will come as the boys get back into their stride. I have no doubt about that defensively Cliftonville asked questions of us. We knew going to Solitude that there would be periods in the game were Cliftonville would dominate possession and be on top, but we always felt that if we could manage the game through those spells, we would get opportunities to win and Burnsy delivered perfectly.

It’s never easy for players to come on to big games of high intensity and get right up to speed straight away, well at least it’s not supposed to be. Burnsy showed all his quality and made an instant impact on the game with his first goal and his second goal was one of pure class that was worthy of winning any game. The initial run from Jamie epitomised his work ethic all day as he tortured the Cliftonville back four, Stevie Lowry’s pass to Burnsy was weighted perfectly and the finish was outstanding. The boys deserved that on the balance of the game, and when you consider all the chances we had – I think it was a fair result.

This is a special group who are all hungry to achieve success together

As for me, serving the final game of my suspension, I chose to spend the second half of the game amongst the Bannsiders faithful in the away end at Solitude. An experience I really enjoyed. It was nice to soak in the atmosphere and feel first-hand the support you show for us every Saturday. There were many occasions on Saturday were you had the opportunity to become frustrated with aspects of our play. However, instead of complaining and bemoaning the players the volume and the noise went up time after time. As players we appreciate that more than the cheers when we’re on top. It was great to be singing the songs with Parky and Lyndon and when that 90th minute winner went in, it was a fantastic feeling. The celebrations were brilliant in the stand, as I’m sure some of you have seen the videos doing the rounds.

Moving on to this week’s game, we face Glentoran at the Oval. The Oval is never an easy place to go but we have a good record there recently and we will go there full of confidence looking for all three points. The Glens have quality in Elliot Morris, John McGuigan and particularly Curtis Allen. He will be familiar to many of you, having played for Coleraine for numerous years. Curtis has the ability to score goals week in, week out. However, it’s his knack of being quiet throughout a game and making you feel comfortable then popping up with a goal, that we need to be most wary of. He has a sweet left foot and can score all different types of goals, so we will need to be switched on for the whole game to contain him. Another threat to watch out for on Saturday is Elliot Morris’ kicking. They like to take quick goal kicks and restarts at the oval, with the ball boys being frustratingly quick to supply him with the ball. It’s something they try regularly and if we switch off, or don’t track runners they will punish us.

Let’s get a big away support down on Saturday for another big game and hopefully another three points.

C’mon the Bannsiders!

Stephen O’Donnell