Sports

Black is back

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Black is back thumbnailAaron Black, the new interim boss of Rathfriland Rangers, watches the team progress to the quarter finals of the Intermediate Cup.

RATHFRILAND Rangers have moved quickly to put Aaron Black in place as the team's new interim manager after the surprise departure of Border Cup-winning boss Paul Kirk last week.

The Iveagh Park club parted company with veteran gaffer Kirk by mutual consent last Tuesday evening (17 January), less than a month after the major Christmas-time Cup triumph in Belfast.

Both parties cited an uneasy relationship off the field as the reason for the separation.

But the club was quick to praise Kirk for his work, saying his achievements were "all the more impressive" in the context of a "difficult" atmosphere.

It is believed that a number of the first team players have also left the club, after their names were missing from the team list on Saturday (21 January), when the team defeated Ballymoney United in the last 16 of the Intermediate Cup.

Black has stepped in as the club's interim boss, with his father Johneen joining him as his right-hand man.

The two men were part of the Whites set-up throughout last year's league-winning season and are both hugely respected at the club.

Aaron and his father Johneen, were in the dugout for Saturday's game at Iveagh Park and were no doubt pleased with the side's 5-2 win.

Aaron said: "I fell in love with Rathfriland when I was here before. It's a real family club with great people involved and a real warmth about it, and I'm relishing the chance to manage it."

The club said that this will be Black's first chance at coaching.

“Rathfriland Football Club is pleased that Aaron Black has agreed to take interim charge of Rathfriland Rangers.

“A hugely-respected former player at the club, Aaron brings his vast footballing experience back to Iveagh Park and makes his first foray into management.

“Aaron will be joined by his father Johneen, who has also worked closely with the club before as a coach, and was an integral, highly-regarded figure during that time," said a club spokesperson.

In a statement last week the club confirmed they had "parted company with manager Paul Kirk by mutual consent".

“First and foremost, Paul's record in leading Rathfriland Rangers on the field was second to none.

“He lifted the Border Regiment Cup for the club last month, and we give our sincere thanks to him and his backroom staff Stevie Houston and Ian Wilson for the time and effort they have given to us.

“Regrettably, our aims and Paul's objectives did not always match, and the atmosphere within the club has admittedly been a difficult one at times.

“In that context, Paul's achievements are all the more impressive.

“But both parties ultimately decided that continuing the working relationship would not have been in the club's best interests.

“The club and Paul part on good terms, and we wish him, his family, his grandson Lewis, as well as Stevie and Ian the very best for the future," said the Club.

Kirk said in an interview on leaving the club that the "atmosphere within the club was poor, considering we had just won the Border Cup and are sitting top of the table".

“Success doesn't guarantee longevity. Sometimes when there is a rotten apple and you don't remove it, the barrel gets infected. I think that's what it was about.

“It's unfortunate. I have enjoyed working with the majority of the players. They have been exceptional. A couple have been hard work but having said that, we still produced a winning team."

Kirk said that he had a "good six months" but thinks the problems "won't go away".

“They can be smoothed over but it will always be there. I wish them all the best and I hope the person who replaces me will continue the success and take the team in a forward movement in the league."

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