Alan Kernaghan ready to make his mark as new Glentoran boss
Ex-Republic ace can prove he's best fit at The Oval
As a youngster the one thing that Alan Kernaghan dreamed of was running out in the green of Northern Ireland at Windsor Park.
Now all that is in his mind is to bring success to the other side of the city, as the new manager of Glentoran.
The 48-year-old has been appointed as successor to Eddie Patterson at The Oval.
He will just be hoping that his quest to win silverware with the Glens doesn't end in the same way as those teenage dreams, which were crushed in major disappointment.
Big day for @Glentoran appointing Alan Kernaghan as their new boss....good luck to him...— Steven Beacom (@StevenBeacom5) November 9, 2015
As a young Northern Ireland fan, Kernaghan stood on the terraces at Windsor Park cheering the team on to qualification for the 1982 World Cup.
Just a couple of years later, while at school in Bangor, he took what he believed were the first steps towards stepping onto that stage himself, when a schoolboy international cap came his way.
Youth international honours were about to follow before a bombshell moment that shook both him and his family.
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Kitted out and ready to play, the dressing room door at Castlereagh Park knocked, with an Irish FA official standing outside.
The association had discovered that, contrary to what they previously believed, neither Kernaghan or either of his parents had been born in Northern Ireland - thus rendering him ineligible and ending his hopes of a full cap.
It wasn't until a few years later that the IFA adopted the grandparent rule, which would have allowed Kernaghan to play, but by that time he had already accepted an invite to turn out for the Republic of Ireland, who did use the granny rule.
"I'd played for Northern Ireland schoolboys and had hoped to take the next step and go on to play for the senior team but then the IFA found that I wasn't eligible. It was a shock," Kernaghan explained in an interview with this newspaper.
"I was approached by the Republic and professional football is such a short career that I took the opportunity to play international football.
"It was a strange situation to be in. I tried for so long to get playing for Northern Ireland, but it never came off. Then all of a sudden I was playing for the Republic of Ireland."
Playing for the Republic wasn't his first choice, but 22 caps and a place in the squad for the 1994 World Cup in the USA meant that in the end it wasn't a bad second option.
Similarly, it would appear that Kernaghan wasn't the top name on the Glens short-list when Patterson was sacked three weeks ago.
Of those who were linked, Gary Smyth doesn't possess the necessary Uefa A Licence needed to manage in the Premiership, let alone the Pro Licence which is a requirement to lead a team into Europe.
Pat McGibbon withdrew from the race last week and Kenny Shiels accepted the Derry City job before the Glens could appoint him.
Kernaghan will be determined to prove that he is the best man for the job anyway, irrespective of who may have been spoken to before him.
He brings with him experience of over 500 games in his professional career, mostly spent with Middlesbrough and Manchester City.
His coaching CV shows spells in charge of Clyde and Dundee and six years as a youth coach with Ranges before joining Brentford, where he was caretaker manager for a spell.
When Mark Warburton took over in December 2013 he brought in his own staff and Kernaghan was out of a job.
Since then he has spent most of his time back in Donaghadee and did get a call from the IFA, when he became involved as a coach with the Club NI set up while also working abroad for Rangers and waiting to see what his next move would be.
The Oval office now awaits and Kernaghan is ready to finally make his mark in Northern Ireland.
Full name: Alan Nigel Kernaghan
Date of birth: April 25, 1967
Place of birth: Otley, West Yorkshire
Club career: 1985-93: Middlesbrough, 1991: Charlton Athletic (loan), 1993-97: Manchester City, 1994: Bolton Wanderers (loan), 1996: Bradford City (loan), 1997-2001: St Johnstone, 2001: Brechin City, 2001-04: Clyde, 2004: Livingston, 2005-06: Falkirk.
International career: Northern Ireland Schoolboys, Republic of Ireland (22 appearances, 1 goal.)
Managerial career: 2002-04: Clyde, 2005-06: Dundee, 2013: Brentford (caretaker).