St Mirren: From 'absolute car crash' to top-flight survival

St Mirren
Manager Oran Kearney and captain Stephen McGinn celebrate victory in the play-off final

St Mirren defender Paul McGinn savoured the club's "incredible" Scottish Premiership survival and claimed their squad was League One standard at the start of the season.

Oran Kearney's side avoided relegation with a shootout win over Dundee United in the play-off final.

Kearney replaced Alan Stubbs whose three-month reign ended in September.

"For the state we were in at the end of August, to stay up is nothing short of incredible," McGinn said.

"We had a squad suitable for League One in this country and anyone could see that from miles away.

"For the manager to come in and keep this team up is unbelievable. Honestly, I can't believe it."

Kearney revamped the squad in January, making 12 new signings, and McGinn praised the manager's success in steering the club to survival after arriving from Northern Irish side Coleraine.

"We knew we had have a full clear out," McGinn added. "The manager doesn't know the country, never mind the league, and he's come in and got boys in from everywhere and we've clubbed together and somehow managed to do it."

Captain Stephen McGinn echoed his brother's sentiments about early-season disarray at the Paisley club and he is convinced Saints can now build from a position of strength as they look forward to a second successive season in the top flight.

"It was an absolute car crash the first three or four months. That wasn't St Mirren," he said.

"It's been such a hard season. It was tricky today. It was stuttery. But we have turned it around and we kick on from this.

"The club is back. You speak to fans and they say this is the best it's been in 20 years. I'm so proud of that as captain."

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'Written in the stars'

'Written in the stars'

Manager Kearney played down speculation he could be set to leave this summer and paid tribute to goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky, whose three saves in the shootout proved decisive.

"Rumours are also going to be there," Kearney said. "I made a conscious choice to come across here and try to improve myself as a manager, and it's something I want to keep doing."

Czech keeper Hladky has been playing through the grief of close friend Josef Sural's death earlier this month and Kearney said: "I fancied it because Vaclav has been outstanding for us.

"He's had a tough couple of months as well and sometimes you just feel things are written in the stars. It's testament to his character.

"I'm delighted for everybody associated with the club. It's been a hell of a season with probably more downs than ups."

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