Panto villain Caolan Loughran serious about moving to next Irish League level
Caolan Loughran may be cast in the role of Irish League panto villain but he is treating his next career move as a serious business.
The 26-year-old defender is searching for a fresh start this summer following three seasons at Carrick Rangers
Loughran remains something of a divisive character in the modern game - with his on-the-field antics often attracting negative attention from rival supporters.
However, Loughran feels those within the game understand it all serves as a motivational tool and that away from the pitch he has total respect for his opponents.
“It just feels the right time for a fresh start and it’s been an idea in my head over the past few months,” said Loughran, who will leave Carrick having collected a string of individual honours since moving from Ballymena in 2018, alongside helping the club secure Premiership promotion and an eighth-place top-flight finish as highlights. “There’s been some interest but nothing sorted yet...so I’m out without a club and taking a risk on my future.
“I think when I got word out about leaving Carrick it came as a surprise to many, with most thinking I would just be signing another deal.
“It’s mutual by both parties that the time is right for a fresh challenge.
“I know there’s a certain view of me from some Irish League supporters but if you talk to the fans at Ballymena and Carrick I hope they would say I always put 100 per cent into my performances.
“I need to have that edge to my game to stay sharp I think, it helps to bring out the best in me but everything I do that might annoy others is always about trying to do what I can for my team.
“I don’t think any reputation would hold me back from a move to a higher level as within Irish League football others in the game know I’m a different person off the pitch.
“Some would say I’m quite shy even away from football and I’m all about showing respect before and after the match.”
Loughran looks back on his progress in recent seasons as the platform from which to now push forward.
“I think I can be an asset to another club and certainly reflect on the past few years and see how I’ve developed,” he said. “I finished this season with 11 goals and have scored something like 25 times in three years as a Carrick player.
“The promotion season coming out of the Championship and then the past two campaigns in the Premiership all add up to massively helping my development.
“I won the League Cup with Ballymena United at 21 or 22 years old but look back and realise I was still a kid back then and Niall Currie bringing me to Carrick certainly helped me to grow.
“I’m 26 years old now and feel ready for that next opportunity and think under the right manager at the right club I could continue to grow.”
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