LIVING THE DREAM

ORAN Kearney bolstered his squad last week with the capture of midfielders Paul Owens and Ruairi Harkin.

The Bannsiders boss has been monitoring Harkin for a number of weeks after his contract expired at Derry City and he eventually tied up the deal last Thursday.

But the deal for Owens came out of the blue after he asked for a transfer from Premier League strugglers Carrick Rangers.

It looked as though he was heading back to former club Limavady United, but Kearney intervened at the 11th hour to link up with Owens again, much to the player’s delight.

“It all really developed at the start of the week,” Owens told Times Sport.

“I put in a transfer request at Carrick as I felt I couldn’t really commit to the travelling any more.

“It looked as though I was going back to Limavady, it looked to be a done deal.

“But on Wednesday night I was sitting down to my dinner and I got a message from Oran and two hours later I had signed for Coleraine.

“He asked me if I was leaving Carrick and I thought he was just wishing me well, but then he phoned me and the dinner was pushed to one side!

“I have to say a big thanks to Michael Hughes who was very good to me and fully understood how difficult the travelling was becoming.

“It’s great to stay in the Premier League. I committed into long journey to get there when I joined Carrick.

“I knew what it would entail when I joined, but when the bad nights came in the three hour trips to training when becoming harder.

“I really enjoyed it there but when the opportunity arose to come here I had to take it.

“I had sort of resigned my self I was heading back to the Championship, which was hard to take as I really enjoyed being in the Premier League.

“But now I find myself at a club which is on the verge of something massive, it’s all a bit surreal to be honest but it’s something which I can’t wait to be involved in.

“Hopefully I can add something to the squad and help play a part.

“I don’t want to be cheesy about it by saying it’s a dream come true for me, but that’s how it feels.

“I go to Coleraine games when I can and I know a lot of the boys here and have worked with the management team before so it wasn’t a hard decision.

“I’m absolutely over the moon and I didn’t sleep a wink on Wednesday night.

“There’s two car loads coming from Limavady now so that makes it a bit easier for me too.

“They are all great lads and I’m just delighted to be here and be a part of it.”

The 29-year-old thrived under Kearney whilst at Limavady winning the Championship Player of the Year award in 2010, and he is hoping he can hit those heights again under the Ballymoney man’s leadership.

“At Limavady you could see Oran was destined for the big time as a manager,” he said.

“Oran took us from near relegation to nearly winning the league with no budget at all.

“He just did a superb job. I scored a lot of goals that season and it was all down to the way Oran had us playing and the way we were coached.

“When the Coleraine job came up I thought if they had any sense Oran would be the man for it.

“And so it has proved, he has turned the club around.

“There is such a buzz around the place now. I work in Coleraine and everyone is talking about the team and how well they are doing.”

Owens has proved to have an eye for the spectacular goal too.

“I’ve managed to net a few this season and some of them were pretty special,” he said.

“I thought I might have been in with a shout for Goal of the Month, but Johnny Black stuck that one in from the halfway line in the same month to do me out.”

Fellow new boy Harkin, who made his debut against Carrick Ranger son Saturday, is also delighted to have put pen to paper.

“My contract ran out with Derry at the end of the month and there was a bit of uncertainty hanging over the place with Stephen Kenny leaving,” Harkin told Times Sport.

“Coleraine was a really attractive proposition for me.

“Oran contacted me a wee while ago and told me of his interest. It’s funny as I was actually contemplating a move last season and Coleraine was a club that interested me.

“So I was very pleased when Oran rang me. Coleraine is definitely a club on the up.

“Oran is proving himself to be a top manager.

“He obviously was an attacking player himself and that’s evident in how he sets out his team and that will hopefully benefit me and my game.

“I know a lot of the lads form the North West. From chatting to them I know there is a good squad here.

“I’m 22 and I just thought it was time for a change. Also I didn’t play as much as I would have liked last season, I just want to play as much as I can now and start proving myself as a player.

“I played a lot for Derry in the First Division. We had a good season and did really well to get promoted with such a young squad.

“So it was a bit of a disappointment not to be as involved as much last season.

“But that’s football. I’ve got a fresh start now and I’m hungry to do well at Coleraine.

“I do feel that I’ve got something to prove coming to Coleraine.”

Harkin won the League Cup with Derry last season and he is hoping to be involved in the League Cup final with Coleraine at the end of the month.

“It would be great to be involved and win the League Cup here after doing it with Derry last season,” he said.

“It’s great motivation for me to aim for the final.

“I know Gareth Tommons is heading off in a few weeks time so there is a vacancy in midfield.

“I just want to work hard and get my fitness up so I can stake a claim for that spot.

“There’s half a season left and I want to be involved and help Coleraine do well.”