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Coleraine boss Oran Kearney favourite to beat big names to St Mirren job

 

By Steven Beacom

Coleraine manager Oran Kearney has been installed as the favourite to take charge of St Mirren ahead of a host of big names including Champions League winners Patrick Kluivert and Guti.

Kearney, the 2/1 frontrunner with bookies BetVictor, will aim to impress today when he is interviewed for the vacant post by the Scottish Premiership new boys who want to make an appointment by the end of the week.

St Mirren are looking for a boss after Jack Ross, having led the Buddies to promotion to the top flight last season, decided to move to Sunderland.

Kearney, who inspired the Bannsiders to Irish Cup glory last month, would relish the opportunity to pit his wits in Scotland against new Rangers manager Steven Gerrard as well as countrymen Brendan Rodgers (Celtic), Neil Lennon (Hibs), Stephen Robinson (Motherwell) and Tommy Wright (St Johnstone) but knows he will have to beat some famous faces to land the role.

Dutch great Kluivert, who won the European Cup with Ajax and league titles with Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven, is interested along with Guti, a huge Real Madrid hero who claimed three Champions League crowns and five La Liga titles with the Spanish giants.

Also in the frame is former Ross County boss Jim McIntyre, ex-Hibs manager Alan Stubbs and Scottish international Gary Caldwell who was previously in charge of Wigan. Rangers legend Ally McCoist indicated at the weekend he would be keen to talk to St Mirren though former Hearts boss Robbie Neilson has ruled himself out after initially being a contender.

While not having the pedigree of his rivals in the professional ranks, Kearney is looking forward to putting his ideas across to the Saints decision makers and has a genuine chance of being given the nod.

St Mirren started the interview process yesterday and will finish it tonight before making their call with pre-season training for the Paisley club due to begin later this month.

Kearney is under contract to Coleraine and while the Bannsiders board plus his players would prefer the 39-year-old to stay and build on recent successes, everyone at the Showgrounds knows if their boss is offered the St Mirren hotseat it would be impossible to turn down.

As well as departing from the Coleraine dug-out he would have to leave his full-time teaching job to move to Scotland if successful in his St Mirren bid.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has spoken highly of Kearney’s qualities to influential figures at Love Street. O’Neill, a former Coleraine player, has watched the ex-Linfield midfielder grow after some difficult days early in a reign that kicked off in 2011 and feels he could shine at a higher level.

Bannsiders chairman Colin McKendry was shrewd enough to stick with his man during tough times and was rewarded with an incredible 2017/2018 campaign for the club.

In a thrilling league title race Coleraine were pipped to first place by Crusaders on the final day before lifting themselves to win the Irish Cup final 3-1 against Cliftonville the following weekend. It was Coleraine’s first major trophy since 2003.

Belfast Telegraph

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