New St Mirren boss Oran Kearney ‘targeting league title win’

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St Mirren’s new manager Oran Kearney has admitted his ultimate goal with the Paisley side is to win the Scottish Premiership.

The 40-year-old, who succeeded Alan Stubbs in the Buddies hotseat, is hoping to repeat the success he had at Northern Irish Football League (NIFL) side Coleraine.

Oran Kearney (centre) watches St Mirren's Under-21s take on Hamilton Under-21s, with Chief Executive Tony Fitzpatrick (left) and Brian Rice (right). Picture: SNS Group

Oran Kearney (centre) watches St Mirren's Under-21s take on Hamilton Under-21s, with Chief Executive Tony Fitzpatrick (left) and Brian Rice (right). Picture: SNS Group

Kearney masterminded Coleraine’s first trophy win in 15 years when he led them to Irish Cup glory last season.

He was an interested spectator as St Mirren Under-21s met their Hamilton Accies counterparts in the Irn-Bru Cup over the weekend, and returned to Coleraine to say his goodbyes ahead of starting his new role in Paisley.

Kearney said: “I want to win the league because the day I started [at Coleraine] I wanted titles and trophies.

“St Mirren, obviously, are not in that position at the minute [having just been promoted].

“But Coleraine a few years ago weren’t in that position either, so with a bit of hard work, a huge amount can be done.”

Speaking to the Irish League Show on BBC Sport NI, Kearney conceded that taking the reins at The Simple Digital Arena would be “tough”, adding: “It hasn’t been the best start to the season and there’s a lot of work to do.”

The PE teacher, who recorded a 3-0 win in his last match for the Bannsiders over current champions Crusaders last Monday, signed a three-year deal with the Buddies on Friday.

• READ MORE - Oran Kearney appointed new manager of St Mirren

The step up from part-time football in Derry to full time football in Scotland’s top flight is a big ask, but Kearney insists he’s embracing the challenge.

He added: “We’re stepping away from something that is so constant and where everybody knows their jobs inside out so there’s going to be a big change and a period of transition.

“Facing Celtic first up is just brilliant and I suppose, if there’s any justification needed about why I wanted to make the move, I think that’s the game and that’s the moment.”

Kearney, who applied for the St Mirren post in the summer before Stubbs was appointed, revealed he had spoken to compatriot Brendan Rodgers ahead of his interview.

“I spoke to Brendan at great length in May, before I did the first interview, and he was a great help then,” said Kearney, whose appointment sees him become the fifth Northern Irish manager in the Scottish Premiership alongside Rodgers, Hibs boss Neil Lennon, Motherwell’s Stephen Robinson and St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright.

He could add another of his countrymen to his backroom staff, with Kearney - the son-in-law of former Kilmarnock boss Kenny Shiels - earmarking ex-Rangers and Hibs assistant Jimmy Nicholl as a potential number two.

Nicholl is currently working alongside Michael O’Neill in the Northern Ireland national team set-up but Kearney revealed contact has been made.

“I’ve had a lot of good chats with Jimmy and it’s something that could be possibly on the radar,” Kearney said.

“But it’s more important to go in there and get a feel for the place first and see what’s needed, rather than jump to things too early.”

Kearney’s new charges face Celtic at The Simple Digital Arena this Friday at 7.45pm live on Sky Sports.