COLERAINE have boosted their firepower as they won the battle to sign Gary Browne on Sunday evening.
Oran Kearney has been on the look out for a new front man to bolster his striking options since the season ended. He spoke with two targets towards the end of last week before announcing Browne has agreed a two-year deal with the Bannsiders at the weekend.
Kearney said he was delighted to have captured the former Linfield and Glentoran forward with several clubs including champions Cliftonville looking to bring him on board.
“Gary is a great all-round striker,” said Kearney.
“He’s strong, with a great first touch and is equally adept at playing in a front two or as a lone striker. I’ve been keen to bring in another striker for a while and Gary fits the bill, having a lot of experience in the Irish League.
“He’s looking forward to a fresh start and to playing regularly again after a bit of a frustrating time at Linfield.”
Browne scored nine goals in 43 appearances (28 as sub) during a two-year spell at Windsor. Last season he scored five in 27 games for the Blues.
Browne’s arrival brings to three the number of new additions Kearney has recruited so far after Stephen Douglas joined Wayne Drummond at The Showgrounds last week.
The Bannsiders boss is pleased with his work to date, especially in keeping both Howard Beverland and Stephen Lowry out of Linfield’s clutches
“With both players playing in central positions they are the heartbeat of the team,” he said.
“Because of their quality it was inevitable other clubs would try and swoop on our prize assets.
“My aim has always been to keep the best players for the club and for the fans and it has been a hectic couple of weeks.
“The club reluctantly accepted a bid for Stevie but rejected their offer for Howard as it was well short of our valuation. For a player who has come through the ranks his development fee would have been about £14,000.
“So I’m glad they will both be at Coleraine next season and I think they will just get better and better.
“It’s a massive coup for us with Stevie deciding to stay here. I don’t think it was ever a case of Stevie actively wanting to leave and his gut feeling told him that Coleraine is the best place for him to play his football.
“I never wanted to lose him, so I’m delighted that he has decided to stay and sign on for an extra season.”
One player who it seems won’t be coming to The Showgrounds is Mark Miskimmin.
“I had hoped to sign Mark but that won’t be happening as his work commitments mean he can’t guarantee making it up for training every week,” revealed Kearney.
*Stephen Lowry and Stephen Douglas speak to Times Sport P62