Coleraine defender Aaron Canning.
COLERAINE defender Aaron Canning admits that winning the Bet McLean.com League Cup on Saturday would be the perfect way to repay the faith shown in him by manager Oran Kearney.
Canning is approaching almost 300 appearances for the Bannsiders, split over two spells, but is still searching for a first winners' medal.
A member of the Coleraine team which lost to Saturday's opponents in the 2012 League Cup, the 27-year-old was also on the losing side as Glentoran defeated Coleraine to win the trophy three years earlier.
He missed out on the club's memorable Irish Cup win in 2018, returning to the club later summer, making him more determined than ever to finally get his hands on some silverware.
“It’s great to be closing in on 300 appearances for such a big club, but it would be brilliant to add some silverware and reward all the supporters, staff and directors,” he says.
“The one thing that’s missing is a winners’ medal, but I think that will change soon the way the club is progressing on and off the field of play.
“The boys all talk about winning the Irish Cup and have great memories from that day, so hopefully we can add another memory and I get my first senior medal," he adds.
“I think the current team is the best I have played with in my time at the club. Previous teams had some great players, but this team has quality 1 to 11."
The popular Limavady man played for a number of clubs after exiting The Showgrounds in 2013 before making an emotional return to his spiritual home during Oran Kearney's second spell as manager.
“It’s been brilliant, coming back to the club,” he states.
“When I came back, the club wasn’t sure at first but, after the first game and meeting supporters, I was made to feel right at home again.
"The supporters are second to none. You only have to look at the semi-final against Linfield. It was a midweek game and I think we had more at Windsor than Linfield.
“Home or away, we as players know they will be there shouting us on and no doubt they will be there in big numbers for the final."
Canning has formed a formidable central defensive partnership with fellow Roesider Adam Mullan but acknowledges they face a tough test this weekend.
“Since I started playing for Coleraine I remember nothing other than really hard physical games against Crusaders,” he continues.
“My first game back at the club was against Crusaders on a Monday night on TV and we had a great result, thanks to three goals from Jamie. Hopefully he doesn’t repeat that this weekend.
“Finals are usually tight, but I think we will just edge it.
“We’ve won two and lost one against them in the league this season but I feel we let ourselves down a bit in the last game.
“On our day we know we can beat any team so, hopefully, we bring our ‘A’ game and come home winners.
“I’m the fittest I’ve been in a long time which has resulted in me playing well, but you can only play well when surrounded with good players."
And good management.
“Oran is unique in his management style,” concedes Aaron.
“He deals with everyone differently and knows how to get the best out of each player and his staff.
“He is very approachable but, believe you me, when you step out of line he has another side to him and I have few fines to back that up!
“Oran just wants to win and if you don’t buy into his thinking then you won’t be in the team, it’s as simple as that.
“I owe Oran and the chairman a lot for bringing me back to the club so, hopefully, a cup win on Saturday will be a good start.”