Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Lowry's Linfield snub delights Kearney

Stephen Lowry has extended his contract at Coleraine just a matter of days after it looked like he was on his way to Linfield.

And another Coleraine man targeted by the Blues, Howard Beverland, is almost certain to stay at the Bannsiders too.

Coleraine accepted Linfield's offer for Lowry last week, but after meeting with Blues boss David Jeffrey the 26-year-old has instead signed a one-year extension to his contract that will now run until the summer of 2016.

Coleraine manager Oran Kearney told the Belfast Telegraph that the two clubs are still some way apart in their valuation of Beverland and as things stand that deal, like Lowry's, is dead.

"The way the press reported it last week was if I'd already signed for Linfield, but it was a huge decision for me to make," said Lowry.

"I wanted to hear what Linfield had to say and I thought long and hard about it, but ultimately I felt more wanted by Coleraine.

"I'm happy that all this is over and I can just focus on the football again and on having a successful season with Coleraine."

Kearney, who had more or less resigned himself to losing Lowry, said: "This is a massive coup for Coleraine. I don't think it was ever a case of Stevie actively wanting to leave and I never wanted to lose him, so I'm delighted that he has decided to stay and sign on for an extra season."

Linfield manager Jeffrey hinted that the deal broke down over figures.

"I'm very disappointed to say that Stephen won't be coming to Linfield, however, the reality is that we work to a wage structure and a budget which has served the club well down through the years," he said.

"I have always said that if a player is not 100 per cent wanting to come to Linfield, then the move is not right for the player as well as for the club."

Meanwhile Joe McNeill saw three dreams come true with one scrawl of a pen yesterday.

The 24-year-old – who was released by Portadown at the end of the season – became Cliftonville's first signing of the summer and while acknowledging that dislodging any current incumbent from the Reds' midfield will be a tough task, he's looking forward to the challenge.

"It's a bit of a dream for me really," said McNeill.

"Joining Cliftonville is brilliant for me personally because I grew up in Ardoyne so it's a club I would have always followed, plus the fact they're the Premiership champions just sort of doubles how great a feeling it is.

"Add to that the fact we'll be playing in the Champions League soon and it's three dreams come true all at once."

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