Oran Kearney: Coleraine boss on adjusting from chasing silverware to self distancing and home schooling

By Grant CameronBBC Sport NI
Coleraine manager Oran Kearney
Kearney celebrates Coleraine's League Cup final win over Crusaders in February

Oran Kearney's football focus has dramatically shifted from Coleraine's attempts to land a treble to virtually isolating himself from almost all contact with his players.

The Bannsiders' boss, who has also swapped school teaching for home lessons with his children, is amazed at how quickly life has changed in a matter of days as the Coronavirus pandemic has shut down sport.

"It is totally surreal," he said. "Within a relatively short period of time life becomes so different."

Kearney led Coleraine to a first League Cup triumph in more than 30 years when they defeated Crusaders 2-1 at Windsor Park back in mid-February, while his side lie four points behind Linfield in the Premiership standings and are scheduled to face Ballymena United in an Irish Cup semi-final.

He confesses to being interested in finding out how other managers are dealing with their enforced divorce from the job.

"I am intrigued to know what they are feeling and how they are coping. It is the first time in years I have been so detached from the game.

"Even in the close season, with more time on your hands, you are busy chasing potential new players, checking on your squad and setting up training regimes."

Going 'off the grid'

The former St Mirren boss Kearney admits he has gone off the grid somewhat: "I have actually set my phone away and forgotten about it most of the time.

"To be fair it had got really, really quiet and that's not a bad thing!"

He added: "It is strange how everything to do with football basically ceased although I am still in a job! It is the first time ever that I don't have contact with players.

"I have sent a couple of messages out and one was a notification about stopping training when the rules about social distancing came in. The other was that the suspension was carrying on indefinitely."

Training ticking over and home schooling

Kearney is satisfied that his players are continuing with their own individual regimes to keep as sharp as they can until competitive action is permitted to return.

"They are smart enough to know what it takes to keep themselves ticking over.

"Football is very much in the background because life has changed and we are living in challenging times.

"When it comes to hitting the switch again we will be ready to resume. For now we all have more pressing matters to deal with."

Normally, Kearney teaches PE at Cross and Passion College in Ballycastle. However, he has had to turn his focus on the education of twins Ava and Luca since schools were forced to close down due to Covid-19.

"We're not going over the top with that to be honest, just keeping up with a few things in the morning. Then its all about trying to entertain them in other ways afterwards - a challenge all parents are facing!"

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