Oran Kearney: Coleraine deny any wrongdoing over managerial return

Kearney has returned to Coleraine 10 months after leaving to manage St Mirren
Oran Kearney has returned to Coleraine on a two-year contract

Coleraine have strongly denied having any contact with Oran Kearney before his acrimonious exit from St Mirren.

The Irish Premiership club say they operated within the Irish FA rules at all times in their hunt for a manager.

On Tuesday, St Mirren chairman Gordon Scott said it was "pretty obvious" that Kearney would return to the Bannsiders after just 10 months in charge.

But Coleraine have angrily refuted the implication that they had persuaded Kearney to quit the Paisley club.

Scott described Kearney's St Mirren departure as "the worst-kept secret in Scottish football" and said he was upset that the split was not sorted immediately after the club's win over Dundee United in the Scottish Premiership play-off final.

Coleraine say that they had interviewed several other candidates to replace Rodney McAree as manager before Kearney became available and also expressed their frustration with the late cancellation of a proposed friendly between the two clubs.

A Coleraine statement read: "Coleraine FC have today read with disappointment the comments from St Mirren regarding the recent appointment of Oran Kearney as our manager.

"We wish to set the record straight that Coleraine FC has at all times conducted itself in a professional manner, in accordance the rules and regulations of the IFA, and had no contact with Oran regarding the vacancy at the club until it was confirmed he had parted company from St Mirren.

"We had interviewed a number of candidates for the position and had been refused permission to speak to another candidate whom we had identified as potentially our new manager.

"Furthermore, the last minute cancellation of the friendly with St Mirren was a major disappointment to not only Bannsiders, but also to a number of St Mirren fans who made the journey none the less to the north coast."

In his last full season in charge at the Showgrounds, Kearney guided Coleraine to the Irish Cup in 2018 and also helped the club to a second-place finish behind Crusaders in a close race for the Irish Premiership title.

Kearney said in a tweet that he was "very disappointed" by Scott's reported comments.

He added: "I choose not to enter a war of words nor will I allow my character, commitment and integrity to be questioned."