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Kearney can do what I couldn't and achieve the dream: Shiels

 

By Graham Luney

Former Coleraine boss Kenny Shiels believes the current manager at the Showgrounds, Oran Kearney, can do what he couldn't and beat Crusaders in a title race.

In the 1996/97 season Shiels was in charge of the Bannsiders when they were going toe-to-toe with Roy Walker's Crues.

Coleraine were out in front before the Shore Road men overhauled them late in the campaign to claim the crown.

Shiels sees this term as a 'role reversal' with Coleraine in recent weeks pegging back the Crues.

They are now level on points - with Stephen Baxter's side ahead courtesy of goal difference - with three games left, starting tomorrow with Coleraine hosting derby rivals Ballymena United and the Crues taking on champions Linfield at Seaview.

While focused on managing Derry City in the League of Ireland, Shiels is keeping an eye on his old team's title bid, not least because Kearney is married to his daughter Lauren.

"I really want Coleraine to win the league not just because of my family connections but because that was my club growing up as a child," Shiels revealed.

"They have only won it once before and I just have this feeling that Coleraine will win the league. I really do.

"There's a role reversal happening here because when we were going for the title when I was managing Coleraine we were five points ahead of Crusaders.

"We had a few one-all draws and everything was going against us the way it's maybe happening to Crusaders now and they overtook us."

On his son-in-law, who could actually lead the Bannsiders to an historic league and Irish Cup double in the next four matches, Shiels says: "Oran has done a remarkable job. He lost good players to Belfast clubs and has brought in players from junior football. People don't recognise that.

"What he has done is amazing. I think it is down to managing people. When you are at a country club I think it has to be down to tribalism and managing individuals. He's done a fantastic job."

Shiels, of course, was once boss at Ballymena who Coleraine face at the weekend. He has an interesting theory on Ballymena beating Glentoran to a top six slot.

He said: "I was thinking about this before the split because obviously I want Coleraine to win the league.

"I would have liked Glentoran to get that sixth spot because that would have meant Crusaders having three derby matches and Coleraine not having any and that could have been significant because the best team doesn't always win derby matches, but Glentoran didn't make it.

"Ballymena will lift their game against Coleraine because I'm sure they don't want Coleraine to win the league."

Smiling, he added: "Ballymena play Crusaders in the last match of the season and they'd better put in a performance because I'll be watching them!"

Belfast Telegraph

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