Torquay United midfielder Eunan O’Kane has delighted the club’s supporters by revealing that he has turned down the chance to move to League One new boys Crawley Town. The Irishman’s snub comes following weeks of interest from the Red Devils, which had culminated in a £150,000 bid being accepted by Torquay and O’Kane heading to the Broadfield Stadium to discuss terms.
The Gulls have already sold two key assets, goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik and defender Mark Ellis, for a combined total of around £380,000. While O’Kane’s transfer – with Swindon Town also rumoured to be interested – had looked at one stage to be the most likely to eventuate, the ex-Everton midfielder now appears set to be the only one of the three players to remain at Plainmoor.
It is unlikely that Torquay would have had to sell any of their three starlets had promotion to League One in 2011-12 been achieved: the Gulls’ eventual play-off semi-final defeat to Cheltenham Town led Olejnik and especially Ellis to declare themselves open to offers from clubs in higher divisions, seemingly believing Torquay would not be winning promotion any time soon.
Although O’Kane also appeared to be interested by the League One football on offer at both Crawley and Swindon, he emphatically ended links to the former with the short, but sweet Twitter post: “Just to let you all know I have turned down the chance to move to crawley! #TUFC”, a message that was predictably greeted with abuse from disappointed fans of the Sussex club, but provided optimism for Torquay supporters that the Republic of Ireland U21 international would remain at Plainmoor for the 2012-13 season.
This hope was further boosted by the reactions of Torquay skipper Lee Mansell and left-back Kevin Nicholson soon afterwards: the former tweeted “I’m delighted [O'Kane] is staying” and told Eunan turning down Crawley was the “2nd best decision you have ever made – you know your first was having me as your mentor!” while Nicholson said “Good news mate, see you in a couple of weeks!”
Although United fans will not feel entirely comfortable until an official club statement confirming Eunan’s staying is made, the omens look good for the Gulls ahead of their upcoming 2012-13 League Two campaign. O’Kane’s creativity in midfield would be sorely missed should he depart, and Torquay look a better team with him in the side – manager Martin Ling has admitted “If Eunan ticks, we tick as a team.”
Torquay’s 21-year-old no.10 has already racked up over 120 appearances for the Gulls, scoring 14 times, since joining the club from Irish outfit Coleraine in 2010.
Image: Eunan O’Kane with Danny Stevens - http://www.wearegoingup.co.uk