COLERAINE boss Oran Kearney spoke to the media after watching his side secure an opening day win over Warrenpoint Town at The Showgrounds…
First-half strikes from Ian Parkhill and Stephen Lowry had the Bannsiders well on their way, before Eoin Bradley pounced on a goalkeeping error to add a decisive third after the break.
The result was a welcome three points for the Stripes as boss Oran Kearney was without TEN first-team players for the fixture.
“The whole time I’ve been at the club I don’t remember a day like today in relation to the amount of players we had missing,” Kearney said.
“We have 20 professional players at the club, Lyndon Kane is out long term injured, James McLaughlin is coming back from a long-term injury, we have two goalkeepers – which takes us down to 16 players, and out of that we had about eight players missing.
“It was a crazy scenario to find ourselves in.
“A big part of that is the five players who were walking a tightrope going into the Irish Cup final, they were booked in the final but then are punished three months later.
“It’s a rule I’ve never agreed with, last season is last season, it’s history now, people should start the new season with a clean slate.
“We haven’t moaned about it, we have just got our head down and planned accordingly.
“I have to give great credit to everyone today. The two young lads – Ben and Alexander – dug in and put in good performances.
“Ben got it a bit tight in the first half, but he showed resilience and character and came strong in the second.
“Alex’s energy and enthusiasm was brilliant throughout, he was a real outlet for us.
“But those guys don’t get that platform unless your senior guys are on it.
“Eoin Bradley, Stephen Lowry, Ciaron Harkin, Gareth McConaghie, Josh Carson playing in at left back, Darren McCauley.
“Graham Crown flew overnight from America, he arrived in Dublin in the early hours of the morning and then played like that today after missing most of pre-season.
“It was one of those days when we needed all those guys to have a bit of adrenaline, and stand up and give the young players the platform to do that.
“Then you have Chris Johns behind that to pull off several good saves when called upon.
“I knew it was never going to be the smoothest of days. We knew they would have chances and we would have to ride a wee bit of luck.
“The third goal when their keeper missed the ball came at a great time to kill the game off.
“It was everything I wanted it to be today on top of the clean sheet. It’s great to be up and running and free up those four players from suspension.
“Aaron Burns will also be available again next week after his partner had a baby in the early hours, congratulations to them both.”
The long list of absentees meant that teenage quartet Ben Moore, Alex Gawne, Caolan Brennan and Andrew Whiteside were handed their league debuts – much to Kearney’s satisfaction.
“The SuperCup hurt us a bit too because I knew I was going to have to do this at this stage of the season, I knew we would need a couple of players to come in for this first game,” Kearney added.
“Obviously I would never step on the County team’s toes to get the players to come and train with us.
“So the earliest we come get them was last week when we played a few of them.
“It probably wasn’t ideal after playing five days of football to go and play a sixth on the Saturday.
“They trained with us this week so we could integrate them into the squad.”
Kearney admitted he wasn’t looking for a fantastic performance from his players but that they pocketed three points ahead of next weekend’s fixture away to Cliftonville.
“I said it to the coaching panel that we were purely outcome based today,” Kearney concluded.
“It wasn’t about being pretty or anything else, it was about getting three points on the board and get us up and running early.”
Graham Crown was also handed his first-team debut in the heart of the defence and the summer signing admits he tired in the closing stages after having only arrived in Dublin at 5:30am yesterday morning.
“The main thing today was to get the three points, obviously with so many out suspended or injured, we wanted to get the win in the bag and get a good start to the season,” he continued.
“I was away on holiday to America for the last four weeks and I got back in Dublin yesterday morning at 5:30am, stayed at my brothers house for a couple of hours sleep, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought, although I did tire in the last 20 minutes.
“It was important that I kept myself fit over there and was ready if I was needed. I had an idea that I’d be playing, so it was all about doing some work over there.
“It’s brilliant to be part of the squad and I was delighted to sign in June, especially after the season they just had.
“I was joining a club that had just won the Irish Cup, pushed Crusaders hard in the League and I want to be a part of that moving forward.
“There were a few long balls there today but thankfully me and big G managed to deal with them.”