Feature Article

Going against the grain: How Coleraine have re-written the Irish League status quo

COLERAINE fanatic Rory McKee shares his thoughts as the Bannsiders enter the business end of the season…

By: Rory McKee

You would have to go all the way back to 2002 to find the last time that a side from outside of Belfast won the Irish Premiership title.

Portadown under then-manager Ronnie McFall boast that particular accolade, however it is the Coleraine outfit of 2017/18 who many see as the new success story when it comes to putting a stop to this all too familiar pattern.

Current table-toppers Crusaders have looked at times unstoppable in this campaign, yet even the Hatchetmen are having to keep a close eye on Oran Kearney’s Bannsiders. Yes, it could be argued that an out-of-sorts Linfield and a Cliftonville side in transition have handed an opportunity to the likes of Coleraine. The Stripes’ record against the top teams this time around though surely brings that into question.

So here we are in mid-February, where it seems Coleraine have answered every critic.

“Some would say that the pressure is on us every week, but that is something we are relishing. I’d rather have the pressure at the top of the table than the pressure at the other end,” Eoin Bradley said.

That said, just about any supporter will leave you in no doubt as to how difficult bridging the two-point gap that has opened up between 1st and 2nd appears.

The one thing this team does not lack however, is fight. And it’s that fight that means a second straight season of European football is now a realistic possibility.

Whatever happens over these remaining weeks, it is safe to say that Coleraine have made a real statement in the spheres of the local game – and have potentially set the tone for seasons to come?