Oran Kearney named NI Football Awards Manager of the Year
Coleraine manager Oran Kearney will start the new season with an extra spring in his step after being named as NI Football Awards Manager of the Year for 2019-20.
The award comes after further trophy success for the Bannsiders, after winning the BetMcLean League Cup in February, just a matter of weeks before the season came to an abrupt halt.
At that time Coleraine were just four points behind leaders Linfield in the title race with seven games to go – one of which was against the Blues – and later lost their Irish Cup semi-final to local rivals Ballymena United on penalties.
“The position we were in and the momentum we had we had big hopes of trying to go and push, but we will never know the answer to that,” said Kearney.
“I was shocked probably more than anything else to get this award, but very proud as well.
“I remember starting out as a young manager and then moving to Coleraine and going to the awards dinner every year. It was lovely as a player to get into the Team of the Year, but as a manager when that prize is there you always looked at it and though that it would be nice someday to get your hands on that.
“To put my hands on it again is fantastic and while I know it’s an old cliche it only happens with the hard work of a phenomenal amount of people around the club.
“It’s great to stand and hold the trophy, but it is a big testament to everybody whose work rate and commitment has been fantastic and it’s a big reward for them all.”
It is the second time that Kearney has won the Manager of the Year award, having been the recipient in 2018 after leading Coleraine to Irish Cup success and a second-place finish in the league, losing out to Crusaders by just two points.
Now Kearney’steam will kick-off the Premiership season tonight with a glamour derby against Ballymena United.
But while the top flight prepares to return to action the NI Football League has confirmed the Championship and PIL Management Committees have agreed to consider provisional start dates next week after the latest Covid restrictions.
They also confirmed the Danske Bank Women’s Premiership will be classified as elite and will remain as scheduled.
International matches involving Northern Ireland representative teams will also be allowed to remain in action.