Belfast Telegraph

Oran Kearney hopes David Jeffrey won't cut football ties

By Graham Luney

Friendship will go out the window for 90 minutes at the Showgrounds this afternoon as David Jeffrey sends his Linfield squad out for the last time against a Bannsiders outfit managed by his old comrade Oran Kearney.

Former Blues favourite Kearney savoured many memorable moments while playing for Jeffrey at Windsor Park and he hopes his mentor continues his love affair with football after stepping down as Blues boss at the end of the season.

It will be the end of an era when Jeffrey waves farewell to his beloved Blues but he has the small matter of a title to win before he rides off into the sunset at the end of a near 30-year association with the club.

Ironically, if Kearney can mastermind a win over Linfield today he could help shatter Jeffrey's final Linfield dream.

Of course, the Showgrounds chief isn't thinking that way but it will not escape his attention that he won't be pitting his wits against a Linfield team managed by Jeffrey again.

"It will be a culture shock for all of us when David leaves Linfield but I'm sure he's not even thinking of that now with the title race so close," said Kearney. "We are just a few weeks from the end of an era with David moving on and it is momentous news not just for the club but for the Irish League as well.

"I'll have a chat with him after the game and I hope he stays in football. I'll certainly be wishing him all the best. He's a great character but also a very good friend and you will find that us managers stick together because we know how tough this job can be.

"When I was going through a lean time this season I was very grateful for the support other managers gave me. Ballymena United may be great rivals of Coleraine but I know Glenn Ferguson well from my playing days and he was very helpful and supportive.

"We all experience our little blips but we are a close knit community and we help each other get through the difficult times. The support I got from across the league was brilliant."

Like the rest of us, Kearney feels the title race is too close to call.

"There is pressure on both the Blues and Cliftonville and it's important for them not to slip up," added Kearney.

"But I'm focused on finishing the season strongly, which is vitally important for us."

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