Patience pays off as boss finally gets his man

Neil McCafferty signs on the dotted line for recently appointed Coleraine F.C. General Manager Hunter McClelland. PICTURE BY DEREK SIMPSON
Neil McCafferty signs on the dotted line for recently appointed Coleraine F.C. General Manager Hunter McClelland. PICTURE BY DEREK SIMPSON

Persistence paid off for Coleraine boss Oran Kearney last week as he finally snapped up one of his long term transfer targets.

Kearney has been a long time admirer of midfielder Neil McCafferty and was thrilled when the north west man put pen to paper on a two-year deal on Friday.

“It has been a long four or five weeks in relation to the amount of work which has gone into everything we are trying to do,” Kearney told Times Sport.

“Neil is the first fruits of that and to me the big emphasis this summer is to bringing in players which will really make an impact on our starting eleven.

“I didn’t have to scout Neil, I’ve watched hime play loads of times over the last three years when he has played against us.

“There have been plenty of times when I’ve been very frustrated by him because he has dominated and controlled the game.

“It is clear for me to what I’m bringing in. He’s 29, he’s at the peak of his career, his experience levels, his attitude and the shape he is in are all great aspects which will add to us.”

McCafferty helps fill the void left by Stephen Lowry’s move to Linfield, and Kearney feels he is a more than capable replacement.

“He will wear the number eight shirt and there is a responsibility which goes along with that, but I know he will stand up and be counted.

“Obviously with Stevie leaving we had to strengthen in there, but we would probably wouldn’t have been in a position to sign Neil if Stevie hadn’t moved on.

“We wanted to replace like for like and for me we’ve gone as close as we could have with Neil coming in.

“We have enough squad players at the club but I want players who are going to come in and make a difference.”

There was much demand for McCafferty’s services, but he told Times Sport he is sure he has made the right move after taking his time with the decision.

“I was obviously released by Portadown a few weeks ago but I took my time and listened to a few people,” said McCafferty.

“I also spoke to my wife, I’ve two young children and I’ve also recently started a new job so everything just really pointed towards Coleraine.

“I’ve met Oran a few times, I spoke to him last year so I knew he was keen on me. It’s close to home, it’s a good club and it’s a good young team and with maybe a bit of experience I think we can do well this year.

“The most important thing for me is to get in there and do well myself. This is my sixth season in the league and at my age now I feel I can also help the young players.

“I’m not scared to say what I think on the pitch and I will be doing that to help the team. But I don’t think there’s much needed, as I say it’s a good young team, it’s just that bit of extra experience that they need.

“There’s not many teams in this league who do like to get the ball down and play, and I understand it’s not always possible because of some of the pitches, but Oran wants to do it the right way and play.

“I know Wes too from my time at Ballymena and his coaching methods and how he wants to play the game so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Despite a disappointing season last time out McCafferty feels the Bannsiders have the potential to bounce back this term.

“I think the league is going to be really open again this season just like it was last year,” he said.

“Linfield have made a lot of changes and Cliftonville have lost a massive player in Liam Boyce.

“Don’t get me wrong there’s Crusaders and Portadown along with Linfield and Cliftonville and they have the top squads, but anyone else can push right up there for one of the european places or a cup like Glenavon did last time out.

“There’s definitely enough quality here at Coleraine for us to do something next season, I know we’ll all be working hard to do so.”