NEW St Mirren boss Oran Kearney insists there will be no old pal’s act when Brendan Rodgers takes Celtic to Paisley on Friday night.
The Hoops gaffer actually helped the Irishman in his attempts to land the job in the summer following the departure of promotion-winning manager Jack Ross to Sunderland.
Alan Stubbs was awarded the role ahead of Kearney, but the ex-Parkhead defender was sacked last week after a dreadful start to the Premiership campaign.
Now the former Coleraine chief, who agreed a three-year deal, is ready for his baptism of fire against the champions and said: “I’ve got a lot of respect for Brendan, but I hope to have plenty of run-ins with him!
“Before the first interview, he was brilliant. I had a great conversation with him on the phone, he was ultra supportive and I would hope that continues.
“This first match is nearly poetic for me.
“People try and grasp the reasons why I would take a career break from my school job and why I would leave Coleraine when they are sitting top of the league and everything else.
“I suppose that in one sentence this is the reason why, to be stepping out in relation to that opening game. It will be brilliant.”
Kearney’s last match as Coleraine boss was a 3-0 victory over Irish League champions Crusaders on Monday night while Stubbs was being sacked by the Saints.
He also revealed he also spoke with Hibs manager Neil Lennon in his research for his first meeting with St Mirren chiefs in June.
Kearney had been recommended by Northern Ireland supremo Michael O’Neill and the 40-year-old coach impressed the Paisley board with his detailed presentation about how to keep moving the club forward.
At the time, they decided to go with the more experienced Stubbs, but they have turned again to the Irishman after the team’s three successive league defeats to leave the club second bottom in the Premiership.
Now he is ready to pit his wits against Rodgers whose seven-in-a-row champions can go joint top of the Premiership with Hearts if they achieve victory.