McConnell believes Kilmore have what it takes to beat the drop
Kilmore Rec are looking to their long term future with the recent appointment of Graham McConnell as their new manager, but that doesn't mean the man himself is soley concentrating on what happens beyond this season. In fact, he couldn't be more focused on ending the current season on a high.
It has been a difficult campaign for the Crossgar men, who have spent the majority of the season rooted to the bottom of the Premier Division table, and McConnell is now their third manager of the season.
The upheaval has taken its toll on Kilmore's survival hopes, but just six points away from clawing their way out of the bottom two, they are far from a lost cause. On the contrary, McConnell believes he has the tools at his disposal to get the club out of their short-term predicament.
He told The Park: “If you look back at my time in management, I have always been attracted to clubs in this sort of position. Islandmagee were bottom (in Division 1A) and tasked with getting up to the Premier Division; Carrick in the Championship and Larne in the Premier League were bottom too.
“I don’t know if it’s a sadistic part of my character, but I relish that sort of a challenge. I know I’m an outsider coming from an area outside of the club, and often when a manager leaves a club, normally the players follow, but it is very much a case of working with the core of players that are here.
“I am not totally sure about the strength in depth at the club, but from what I have seen in training, there is certainly enough quality to work with.
“The club are keen to keep the local thing here, to keep people with an affiliation for the club, and I agree, it’s the right thing to do. People within the club - real football people who have managed and won things, like John McCarthy and Paul Mullen - feel that while Kilmore were doing well a few years ago, winning the Steel & Sons Cup and everything, they were mainly looking at the short term.
“I’m not suggesting that they’re happy to go down, but when I met them, I was very impressed - they are not looking for a short term fix, they are looking beyond this season.”
Everything is in place to give McConnell and the board the bright future they are after - it’s just that the former Larne chief sees that process beginning from today, and is eager to deliver in his first campaign, despite the fact that he has arrived well after Christmas.
He continued: “Sometimes you find things go in cycles… and at the moment, Kilmore have a lot of players at a good age. There are a lot of players from 17 to 23 at the club.
“But for me, there are two sides to what I have to do… first and foremost, to stay in the Premier League. My personal pride wouldn’t let me just write this season off.
“Then, it’s all about making the club sustainable. Kilmore are a good solid club - they want to do things in the right way, and they’ve got six or seven players who are capable of playing at the highest level.”
It would appear that McConnell has the platform to achieve the latter. As for the former, the next three months will tell...