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Coleraine fail in approach for Dundalk coach while doubt cast over Oran Kearney's St Mirren future

Former Coleraine boss Oran Kearney.
Former Coleraine boss Oran Kearney.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Coleraine have confirmed that a bid to bring in Dundalk assistant Ruaidhri Higgins has failed while Oran Kearney's future as St Mirren manager has been plunged into doubt.

The Bannsiders will now 'actively consider a number of other' candidates while the current backroom staff continue preparations for the new season.

There is little doubt that, should be become available, former boss Kearney will be the preferred candidate to return the club he led to Irish Cup glory and a league runners-up spot last year.

Coleraine's announcement followed just hours after claims broke that a mid-week meeting with Buddies chairman Gordon Scott and the board of directors has called into question Kearney's reign at the Paisley club.

It is thought that his future will be decided one way or the other over the weekend before the squad returns for pre-season training on Monday.

St Mirren could not provide anyone for comment.

Coleraine said that over 30 expressions of interest were made in their post, which has now been vacant for six weeks since Rod McAree's departure.

Higgins played for the Bannsiders in the 15/16 season and was promoted to assistant manager by Dundalk in January.

"We have conducted a number of interviews with potential managers and identified an individual, although he had not expressed an interest, whom we believed was the person to fill the position," read a club statement.

"During the last fortnight we were in discussion with Dundalk FC seeking permission to speak with Ruaidhri Higgins but this was refused.

"As a result we were unable to pursue this any further and, like ourselves we believe Dundalk clearly see his potential. We wish him and Dundalk FC every success.

"As a result we have asked our present back room staff to continue with the preparations for the new season as we actively consider a number of others for the position."

After taking charge at St Mirren in September, Kearney, 40, has been commuting back and forth from his Northern Ireland home, where his wife Lauren and children remain.

Last week, chairman Scott said that Kearney had settled 'to a degree' in Scotland.

"It's hard for him," conceded chairman Scott, speaking to STV. "He's got a wonderful family and a wonderful life back home. I would like to think he's settled now and in the long term would move over here."

Kearney's former club Coleraine, of course, are yet to appoint a new manager after the departure of Rod McAree six weeks ago to the day.

Bannsiders chairman Colin McKendry has previously stated that Kearney was not expected to be in the running for his old job and had been hoping to come to a decision by the end of this week.

But the latest news could change everything.

It was announced last week that St Mirren would play Coleraine in a friendly at the Showgrounds on June 29.

Last month, Kearney played down speculation that he could leave St Mirren.

"I love it here," he said. "I knew what I was letting myself in for. The problem is I have a lovely wife and lovely kids and I have to do a bit of commuting.

"But I can sort that and i knew what I signed up for from that point of view.

"Speculation is always going to be there, but when I made the step to want to do this I wanted to give it my all and that’s what I intend to do."

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