Coleraine's Eoin Bradley hoping for more Windsor memories ahead of crunch Linfield clash
Danske Bank Premiership: Linfield v Coleraine (today, 3pm, Windsor Park)
COLERAINE star Eoin Bradley has made some magic memories at Windsor Park through the years, and he hopes to do the same again when the Bannsiders take on high-flying Linfield today.
The former Derry GAA star bagged the insurance goal at the end of Coleraine’s Irish Cup final victory over Cliftonville back in May, while his glorious assist for Kevin Braniff in the 2016 decider will live long in the memory of Glenavon supporters.
Whether in Gaelic football or soccer, Bradley has always been a man for the big occasion. And, travelling up the road to Belfast today, the 34-year-old won’t be able to stop himself reflecting on those special moments as Coleraine prepare to face David Healy’s second-placed Blues.
“I definitely have had some good days there, hopefully this is another one!
“No, look, I enjoy it. I’m enjoying my time, enjoying playing. I’m closer to the end of my career than the start of it so I just want to enjoy every game.
“You never know with injuries of whatever what’s around the corner, so you just try to enjoy each game as it comes.
“It’s a big stadium, there’ll be a good crowd there, it’ll be a good day, a good atmosphere. That’s what you want.
“We beat Institute last week without playing well but Linfield will be different because they’ll come out and attack you where Institute sit in and try to make life difficult for you.
“This should be a more open game.”
Six months on from that first Irish Cup success in 15 years, another Windsor victory could prove just as significant as Coleraine bid to kick-start a season that has proved stop-start thus far.
Oran Kearney left for Scottish Premiership outfit St Mirren at the start of September after seven years at the Showgrounds, and it is only natural that there was a bedding-in period for his replacement, Rodney McAree.
Yet, although they have struggled for consistency, the Bannsiders still occupy sixth spot, 10 points off league leaders Glenavon.
Get on a good run and all of a sudden they could find themselves right back in the picture at the top of the table.
“Funny, me and Jamie McGonigle were just talking about that last night,” smiles ‘Skinner’.
“I said to him if we happen to go and win our next seven or eight games, you’d be top of the league before Christmas.
“People have to understand that any man who comes into a new club, it takes a while to put his own stamp on things and Rodney’s no different. But I can just see there at training, even some of the different drills we do, it’s been really enjoyable.
“It’s hard to explain because him and Oran are very similar, two young coaches. Rodney played the game professionally, he was over in England for eight or nine years, so he’ll bring that side with him.
“It’s only now he’s getting to know the players, it’s only now the players are getting to know him, so I think from now on you’ll see the benefits of that relationship between him as the coach and us as players.
“His training’s fantastic, the way he talks, it’s very similar to Oran. I don’t like going on about it, but it’s a compliment to both men. Everybody knows there were a lot of people in for the Coleraine job but I’d say that’s why he got it – his age, his profile, the way he talks to players and the way players talk about him.
“It can only be good for us.”
IRISH LEAGUE STATS
(all games 3pm)
Ards v Crusaders
A 3-0 VICTORY at basement club Newry City stopped the rot, and Crusaders will be determined to follow that up against Ards today.
The Crues are nine points off the pace and will be fancied to win today, although third-from-bottom Ards showed what they are capable of when surprising Linfield last month.
Odds: H: 9/1 D: 9/2 A: 1/5
Dungannon Swifts v Institute
DUNGANNON Swifts, who moved off the bottom of the table with a draw at fellow strugglers Ards last week, go in search of just their second victory of the season when they welcome Institute to Stangmore Park.
‘Stute lost out to Coleraine last week but have performed well against the teams around them in recent times, helping them to eighth spot in the table.
Odds: H: 11/10 D: 12/5 A: 15/8
Glenavon v Warrenpoint Town
TABLE-TOPPERS Glenavon will be keen to bounce back after suffering only their second defeat of the season against Ballymena United last week.
The Lurgan Blues, who will be without defender Andrew Doyle for two months because of a knee injury, were in superb form before that game and come up against a ‘Point side buoyed by their draw at Windsor Park last Saturday – although they could have taken all three points had it not been for Andy Waterworth’s late leveller.
Odds: H: 1/5 D: 9/2 A: 9/1
Glentoran v Ballymena United
UNDEFEATED in eight games across all competitions, third-placed Ballymena United are one of the form sides in the league and travel to The Oval full of confidence.
On the injury front, the Braidmen are without Conor Quigley (ankle), William Faulkner (knee) and Basit Umar (groin) while Glens boss Ronnie McFall cannot call upon the suspended quartet of John Herron, Ross Redman, John McGuigan and Steven Gordon.
Odds: H: 13/10 D: 12/5 A: 8/5
Prediction: Ballymena United
Linfield v Coleraine
COLERAINE have yet to record back-to-back league wins under Rodney McAree, and face a big ask to change that against Linfield today.
Despite sitting second in the table, the Blues have been unpredictable too, losing to Ards last month and narrowly avoiding defeat at home to Warrenpoint last weekend, so the Bannsiders will fancy their chances.
Odds: H: 5/6 D: 12/5 A: 11/4