COLERAINE defender Aaron Traynor hopes to put the pain of last season behind him by winning the BetMcLean League Cup this weekend…
The full-back suffered an ACL injury against Glenavon in September 2018 and was ruled out for the rest of the campaign.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, the ex-Carrick Rangers ace admits he is getting back into the swing of things on the pitch after making his return against Saturday’s opponents Crusaders back in September last year.
“I had to travel up to the games all of last season and it wasn’t nice,” he recalled.
“We were struggling in terms of winning and we weren’t successful in the cups.
“Even for me personally, it was hard to watch but since I’ve came back in, I was given a lifeline being honest because we played Ballymena the week before I played my first game and two defenders were sent off.
“Oran approached me and said there was a chance of me playing if I felt up to it but I’m not going to pressure you as I’ve had a long injury.
“It was one of those ones, selfishly, that it was my chance to get back in quicker than expected and ironically enough it was against Crusaders and we won 4-2.
“Slowly but surely I am getting back to where I was two years ago when I felt fit, fast and strong, but I’m looking at the flip side of things in terms of recovery because we only have 11 or 12 games left, so I’m looking to prepare for them and have a good pre-season which I missed last year.”
The 29-year-old joined the club in May 2017 from Warrenpoint Town and he remembers having a difficult start to his career at The Showgrounds.
“It’s not hard holding myself back in terms of the injury, it’s having to just listen to Oran,” he joked.
“Oran’s taught me a big lesson as I remember my first few matches were against Rangers in a friendly, a Charity Shield match against Linfield and a league game against Dungannon and I didn’t come out with too much credit.
“Oran had a word with me and benched me for three games after the Dungannon game and I remember thinking ‘what have I done here and what choice have I made making the commitment of travelling up to Coleraine’ but he took me aside and said this is the type of player that I need and want.
“I took it on board and thought I’m at a big club here, I can’t get away with what I want to do and I’ve listened to him.
“He’s took me under his wing and I’ve tried to implement what he wants from me and I’ve played my best football under him and I have to thank him.
“Running up and down the pitch can be demanding but I love going forward and it’s something Oran knows that I love and obviously I want to get involved as much as I can to help the team.
“At the other end, we are good defensively and clean sheets mean more to me because I’m not really good at crossing, so when I do go forward it doesn’t really mean anything.”
Traynor – who started the 2018 Irish Cup final against Cliftonville – insists he owes boss Oran Kearney a sense of gratitude for helping him mature both on and off the pitch.
“I think I’ve matured over the last couple of years at Coleraine,” he concluded.
“I think I was young, energetic and didn’t give much thought to football and now under Oran who is a teacher by day, he brings that onto our team and he teaches you different things and tries to implement different ways on how to change your game.
“I think he has matured me both on and off the pitch and obviously getting the benefits of it and I’m certainly not running down the pitch like a headless chicken as much.”