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COLERAINE boss Oran Kearney has challenged his players to reach the heights of last weekend’s opening day victory as they travel to Portadown tomorrow afternoon…

The Bannsiders recorded a 3-1 success against Cliftonville last Saturday as Evan McLaughlin struck a first-half brace before Jamie Glackin sealed the win late on.

However, despite being joyous at securing the win against the Reds, Kearney was quick to point out that it’s only one game as they got their season up and running.

“I think the changing room is wrecked in there,” he told Coleraine TV after the game.

“There was no big high fives, handshakes or anything else that goes with it.

“There’s plenty of experience in there and we are long enough in the tooth to know that it’s only three points.

“We’ve only played one game and there are 37 left to do, so there were no big parties or anything like that.

“We will crack on, get back to training and try and do the same this weekend against Portadown.

“We were very pleased with the win against Cliftonville.

“We spoke about it pre-game that you don’t feel like you’re up and running until you get those first three points in the bag.

“It’s brilliant to get them on the first day because you feel like you’re up and running straight away rather than having to wait two or three games into the season.

“Not only the three points but we were delighted with the manner of the performance.”

The weather isn’t expected to be as warm in County Armagh tomorrow afternoon but Kearney was full of praise for the seismic shift his players put in against Paddy McLaughlin’s troops last Saturday.

“The energy levels were terrific by both teams,” Kearney continued.

“Your worry with Cliftonville is that they’ve been in a bit earlier than us, they’ve had a couple of big European games which dictates a pace which leaves you ready for the start of the season.

“Our worry without going too hard was to make sure that we were able to go toe-to-toe with them and last the distance.

“To be fair to our lads, I thought the energy levels and everything else was very good.”

The Stripes had to battle for large spells in the second-half after Ryan Curran reduced the arrears on 54 minutes but Kearney remarked that his summer arrivals helped provide a calming influence on the pitch.

“We have signed well and players with good experience,” he concluded.

“With that, when we were shook at that moment in time, there was a good calming influence around the pitch and it showed.

“Cliftonville scoring was probably the best thing that happened us as it woke us up.

“You could say we had a poor start to the second-half, but to be fair to them, they came out of the blocks like we know they would and we had to weather that, however, it was nice to grab a third and put it to bed.”