Oran Kearney: ‘I crave a trophy and success, and that’s what I have craved from day one’

Coleraine manager Oran Kearney
Coleraine manager Oran Kearney

It’s Sunday 6th February 2011 and I’m on my way to interview new Coleraine boss Oran Kearney, following his appointment at The Showgrounds.

The former Linfield man had cut his managerial teeth at north-west neighbours Limavady United, but was delighted to be given the opportunity with the Bannsiders, even though they were in a slump.

Oran Kearney celebrates a win with his young son

Oran Kearney celebrates a win with his young son

The Ballymoney man could see the undoubted potential the Ballycastle Road side possessed.

The was a glint in his eye, a mixture of steely determination and excitement for what the future may hold.

Fast forward seven years and that look is just the same as I catch up with the Bannsiders’ boss again.

The club is in a very different position now to when Kearney stepped through The Showgrounds doors.

The talented young squad he has assembled in recent years is slugging it out with Crusaders at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership and in the last eight of the Irish Cup.

Kearney is obviously delighted where the club is heading, but such is his winning mentality, he wants more.

“This is still a rung on the ladder for us, I still crave more for us,” he said.

“I crave a trophy and success, and that’s what I have craved from day one. Like any club, manager or player we want to win some silverware.

“I don’t think we were ever in the position in the last four or five years, bar a bit of luck in the cups, that that was going to happen.

“Getting into Europe last year was massive - from an experience point of view and from a financial point of view. Getting to the cup final was another brilliant experience from both aspects as well.

“Now that has whet the appetite, and when you bring people like Aaron Burns in, who’s used to winning, and Stephen Dooley, who won the ‘double’ down south, it can only help us achieve that.

“It’s no coincidence we aimed for those two players, with big-game pedigree and experience.

“Coming into these last few games of the season those are the ones who will be the game changers.”

As well as bringing in the likes of Dooley and Burns, Kearney and his staff have built up a squad packed with local talent, which is paying dividends now.

“Realistically, in the first couple of years you can’t just come in and sign the likes of Dooley and Burns,” he said.

“I have fought tooth and nail, on and off the pitch, to put ourselves in the position where we can attract players like that and then be able to bring them to the club.

“That just hasn’t happened overnight. I’ve taken a lot of stick, the chairman has taken a lot of stick along with the board.

“But when you don’t have a big-money benefactor you have to find a different way to do it.

“However, you get a huge amount of satisfaction out of doing it that way.

“The club I walked into seven years ago, no disrespect, was full of boys who weren’t from this area and didn’t really have an identity with the club.

“Obviously we still have a few players from Belfast and a car load from Derry, but we have a real identity to this club now.

“We have the likes of James McLaughlin from Ballybogey, Lydon Kane from round the corner, Jamie McGonigle from Dungiven, Brad Lyons from Ballymoney, Gareth McConaghie from Dervock...the list goes on and on. We have an absolute identity to the club which runs right through it, and that’s worth its weight in gold.

“It’s so important to have that, and for me that’s been the biggest success of the last seven years.

“We now have the best players from this area playing at the club, and that wasn’t always the case.”

The next few months will certainly be very interesting and exciting ones for Kearney, but he knows his side will have to work for everything that comes their way.

“Football is an unforgiving game, you don’t get rewards,” he said.

“It doesn’t always happen the way you want it, and you don’t get what you deserve.

“It’s great to be where we are at the moment in time, but it has been a long journey to get us here.

“We keep ramming that home to the guys who have been here for a long time.

“We won’t be resting on our laurels we have some big games coming up over the next few weeks.”