Match Reaction

OK hails ruthlessness in both boxes

COLERAINE boss Oran Kearney insists the Bannsiders’ performance was ‘bang on’ as they swept into the third round of the BetMcLean League Cup last night…

A hat trick from Cathair Friel, added to strikes from Conor McKendry and Evan Tweed, saw the holders comfortably through to the next stage of the competition.

Kearney admits it was great to get more minutes into several members of the squad and was impressed by the quality of the goals his side converted.

“It’s bang on what you would want on a night like this,” he said.

“The standard that they’re at, you know they’re a good side, and they’ve players there that have played in the Irish League.

“We know it’s a squad game nowadays so you’re just trying to manage the squad and make sure that we get minutes into people who need it, but that we didn’t drop the standard.

“That was the thing that pleased me most and it was the thing that we spoke about before the game.

“Yes, we made some changes – sometimes we don’t do that for games like this – but the players needed to show me that it’s not weakened either because there’s people itching to get into this team.

“People have shirts at the minute and it’s important that they show me that they want to get into the team.

“To be fair, the response from the guys was brilliant.

“I thought some of the qualities we showed were excellent, especially in the first half.

“We were really on it for 40 minutes and we won the ball back a huge amount of times in their half.

“I thought Ronan Wilson did extremely well there and there was great energy from Glacks and Conor as well.

“But, more importantly, we showed that ruthlessness in both boxes as well and was good to see some good quality goals go in.”

Friel’s treble was his first goals for the Bannsiders since making the move from Carrick Rangers and Kearney hopes that this will give him an added sense of confidence moving forward.

“It’s been a tough and frustrating time for Cathair,” he added.

“He picked up an injury in the middle of pre-season which set him back a few weeks.

“He needed a run out tonight, he’s itching to get going and we gave him a three-year contract for a reason.

“Cathair is 27-years-old, he’s a goalscorer and all of his goals this evening were different types of goals but they are ones that strikers score and you can never have too many of those in your team.

“It’s great and a good lift for him and hopefully he can kick on now.”

Kearney was also able to give Patrick Kelly a further taste of first-team action and was pleased to see his side progress inside 90 minutes ahead of this weekend’s clash against Linfield.

“Patrick is 16-years-old and we have a duty of care to protect and develop him at the right speed,” he continued.

“We’ve been lucky in the last few games that we have had a good lead to bring him on and it’s such valuable experience for a player of his age.

“It will stand him in good stead and his football intelligence is so impressive.

“Yes, he gave the ball away a couple of times before winning it back and went close to scoring, but the way he moves and looks for the ball on the pitch was really good.

“The big thing for us was getting the match nailed in 90 minutes and getting some legs fresh ahead of Saturday’s game.

“If we pick up an injury, someone who has been on the bench needs to come on and hit the ground running, so tonight and the North-West Cup game has allowed us to keep ticking over by getting minutes into players.”