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Irish League

Players line up to wish Kearney well as Coleraine get set for next chapter


On target: Josh Carson netted in victory against Crusaders
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It's a painful irony for Coleraine that their first match after the exit of Oran Kearney comes against Scottish opposition.

After weaving his magic with the Bannsiders, Kearney has accepted the challenge of turning St Mirren's season around.

Life goes on for Coleraine with William Murphy, Trevor McKendry and Paul Owens taking charge for tonight's home Scottish Challenge Cup second round clash with Formartine United.

The game could be an ideal opportunity for Kearney to wave an emotional farewell to fans and they will also be wondering where the club goes from here.

While the Bannsiders board considers the managerial options, one thing is certain - the former Linfield midfielder has left the team well equipped to challenge for the big prizes again after lifting the Irish Cup last season and coming so close to title glory.

Formartine hail from Pitmedden, Aberdeenshire and are managed by former Celtic player Paul Lawson but the Coleraine fans are already looking further into the distance, wondering will the next chapter in the club's history be as prosperous as the last.

The players showered Kearney with praise yesterday, including Josh Carson, who stated: "Boss, I just want to start by thanking you for everything you've done at our football club and with me, giving me a chance to play and having faith in me on the pitch and for that I'm very grateful.

"You deserve this and all the plaudits that come with it, you have put Coleraine on the footballing map. I wish you all the best. St Mirren have not only got a great manager but most importantly a great guy! Thank you."

Brad Lyons, who has just secured a move to Blackburn Rovers, added: "Great manager but an even better person. Owe everything to him as without his knowledge and guidance I wouldn't be the person I am. All the best @OranKearney on your new adventure #OKBAWA."

And just as it should be, Kearney's last match in charge of Coleraine was a ruthless performance, blowing away Crusaders in front of the Sky Sports cameras. Carson, who netted the opener in the 3-0 victory, reflected: "I thought we were super against Crusaders and Jamie took his goals well. When Skinner (Eoin Bradley) gets in those positions he'll have a shot and I've got to be aware for rebounds.

"That performance at the home of the champions gave us confidence.

"Stephen Lowry is a real enforcer and he's been brilliant for us. He likes to dictate play and that's good because we are dangerous going forward. We are a good side and I felt the Crues game was the first this season in which we came out and played.

"Crusaders can never be written off. They are champions for a reason."

Coleraine vs Formartine Utd

Irn Bru Cup:

Showgrounds, Tonight, 7.45pm

Belfast Telegraph

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On target: Josh Carson netted in victory against Crusaders