Rathfriland Rangers have strengthened their attacking options for next season with a move for Banbridge Town’s Johnny Kernaghan.
One of the main transfer targets for the club’s new management set-up, Kernaghan represents a second major coup for the Whites this summer after the capture of Warrenpoint Town midfielder Kenny Kearns last month.
While the Iveagh Park side are awaiting final clearance of paperwork for the deal to be completed, an agreement is in place.
Earmarked for an attacking number-10-style role just behind the front two, Kernaghan brings considerable experience of Championship football to Rathfriland, having spent last season with Banbridge Town after also playing for Lisburn Distillery and Loughgall. Kernaghan honed his considerable ability with a lengthy spell at Linfield as a teenager.
Although Kernaghan will be linking up with his dad, Rathfriland boss John, he says it was assistant boss Dessie Gorman, the legendary former Linfield striker, who convinced him to join.
“Dessie rang me a few weeks ago and asked me to come down and speak to him,” said Kernaghan. “So I met him, he told me his plans for the season and I was impressed with what he had to say.
“He asked me then to come down to one of the training sessions, and again I was very impressed so I made the decision then. Dessie being at the club was a big factor.”
Despite that, his choice to move away from Banbridge Town, where he had spent a hugely enjoyable and productive season, was not an easy one to make.
“I loved my time at Banbridge, so that made it a very, very tough decision,” he said. “I went and met Ryan Watson, the manager, and we talked about it, but in the end I just made the decision to come to Rathfriland.”
And Kernaghan is already looking ahead to what targets he feels his new club should be setting themselves for the coming season.
“This year I’d like to think we’ll get a good start to the season, a good cup run and definitely look to progress from the sixth-placed finish in the league that the club got last year. If things go well, we’ll hopefully be looking at getting promoted.”
Meanwhile, Banbridge Town boss Ryan Watson says he was sad to lose Kernaghan:
“That was a disappointment for us. I had a long chat with Jonny last week and he was in a bit of turmoil as to what to do. He’s a great player and a great lad so he’ll be a loss to us.
“That’s football. We wish him all the best in the future. We’ve got the other lads in now and we’ll concentrate on our squad moving forward.”