OK hoping to unleash ‘new animal’

ORAN Kearney believes his new cycle in terms of playing squad is ahead of schedule and hopes this is rewarded by lifting the BetMcLean Cup tomorrow afternoon…

The Bannsiders brought in six new players in the summer and then added Andy Scott and Eamon Fyfe in the January transfer window to rejig the squad.

After an inconsistent start to the season, Coleraine began to find their rhythm which culminated in a 14 match unbeaten run in the Danske Bank Premiership, as well as reaching their third successive BetMcLean Cup decider.

“People talk of cycles in terms of three or four years but our cycles are a lot longer than that,” he said.

“We tend to stick with what we know and trust rather than constant wholesale change.

“We’re very pleased both on and off the pitch with what we’ve got in this transition.

“Ideally this summer it’ll be back to normal where it’ll be a couple in and a couple out and we want to be smart about how we do that.

“We’re really happy and you can see that on the pitch as all the new signings have added to us massively.

“All in their own way have big futures for the next couple of seasons.

“I hope to be ahead of where we thought we might be.

“Whether I like it or not, the length of time I’ve been in the job at Coleraine I don’t have time for a year or two, I can’t go back to a cycle like my first cycle.

“That first cycle involved two or three seasons of mediocrity, of waiting for young players to come through, and then getting our two or three seasons that we wanted.

“I’m not a mug. I have a fair understanding that I wouldn’t get the time to do that again so it’s a different animal now.

“With that I’ve got to make sure – like we’ve done this season, and I’m delighted – the manner of us this year and the way that we’ve got it so quickly, we’re delighted with the progress that we’ve made.”

The Bannsiders have been boosted by the return of Conor McKendry and Kieran Farren, however, Kearney stressed he will happily use members of the club’s under 20 squad if necessary.

“The team has nearly picked itself in recent weeks,” he confessed.

“We used to be a squad of 20 or 21 players but I would say from next year, it will be down to a squad of 19 due to money and everything else.

“Only 11 players can start, seven on the bench, that’s 18.

“If you have one misfortune you’re down to naming the likes of Corey McLaughlin or Luca Doherty, or some of these young players, on the bench.

“People would look and think ‘oh, they’re not as strong’.

“But, for me, it’s all about opportunity.”