Nephew of former Coleraine star gives fans a glimpse into bright future for club

A picture of Coleraine teenager Alfie Gaston battling with Linfield's Jamie Mulgrew
Coleraine teenager Alfie Gaston battles with Linfield's Jamie Mulgrew -Credit:David Cavan

Coleraine fans have been given a glimpse into the future in their last two games as boss Oran Kearney gave the club's promising young talent the chance to shine in the Irish Premiership.

Aidan Tejada's debut in the win over Glentoran last Saturday may have been cut short due to injury, but Alfie Gaston made the most of his first start at Windsor Park on Tuesday evening as the Bannsiders picked up a dramatic 2-2 draw with Linfield. Gaston, who was one of four Coleraine players in the historic NI U18 Centenary Shield winning squad, comes from good Irish League stock as a nephew of Rory Hamill's and Kearney said he deserved his chance.

"I've no doubt it probably raised a few eyebrows, throwing in somebody at 16 years of age, but even when I named the team nobody batted an eyelid in the changing room, there wasn't a huge hullabaloo about it from that perspective," said Kearney ahead of this afternoon's game with Crusaders.

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"Alfie's trained with us for nine months. It's not one of those on a whim where you're grabbing somebody and throwing them in and trying to create a bit of noise or whatever. He deserves it, he's probably been ready for it for a few months.

"The biggest thing that's hurt Alfie this year is probably us and the fact that we went through a period with a lot of injuries and lacking a lot of leadership. It just wasn't the right time to throw Alfie in and I suppose it would have been cruel on that side.

"The important thing about Tuesday night was we played him in a central role but we surrounded him with quality and experience everywhere and that allowed him to flourish.

"I wanted this to happen a lot earlier in the season but, sadly, we just haven't been in a place where you feel confident and safe that you're putting him in an environment where he doesn't suffer as a young player, rather than growing.

"I thought from the word go he was really good but I'm not shocked because that's the Alfie that we know."

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