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John McGrath happy to share the steering wheel at Ford with new co-manager Gary Kelly


Ford bosses John McGrath and Gary Kelly

Ford bosses John McGrath and Gary Kelly

Ford bosses John McGrath and Gary Kelly

Ford manager John McGrath is more confident than ever that his team are going to fulfil his dream of intermediate football, and it’s a dream he is more than happy to share this season.

For the first time ever, the man who has been at the helm of the West Belfast club over the past decade has a co-manager, in the form of ex-second team boss Gary Kelly.

And while many dismiss the ‘joint managers’ model as an unworkable one at all levels of the game, McGrath is determined that he and his new colleague can be the exception to the apparent rule.

He told The Park: “We know all about the pit-falls and problems of this type of set-up, but it’s something we discussed with each other during a two-hour meeting. We talked through all the pros and cons, and asked ourselves: ‘could we do this together?’

“Gary has freshened up the club, and brought a different approach with him. It’s made things better, and it means if one of us can’t be there, we still have a manager in place.

“I am easy going, and so is Gary. At the end of the day, we aren’t going to agree on everything, and we both accept there will be times where the other person has to get their way. But we haven’t had an argument yet.”

That much hardly comes as a major surprise, given that Ford have yet to taste defeat in Division 2A this season. Yet McGrath is confident that if results ever don’t go their way, there will be no cause for concern within the joint management structure.

He continued: “Nobody is a good loser, and we know there will be disappointments along the way. We are at an early stage with this.

“There are going to be those who want me to be the manager and those who want Gary to be the manager. But we have both gone into this with our eyes wide open, and have agreed to stick together as a team, whatever happens.

“So far, it is going well. The club have backed us, the players have backed us, and we couldn’t really ask for any more.”

Things off the pitch are going swimmingly, too. Despite winning the 2A title back in 2006, and regular putting in a serious challenge for title honours since, the motivation for topping the table has perhaps not been what it otherwise would, as their ground hasn’t been at the required standard to make the move up the divisions.

However, McGrath has revealed that there appears to have been a breakthrough in their long search for facilities fit for staging intermediate football – although at this crucial stage in developments, he has been understandably wary about going into any further detail.

“My ambition for this club has always been to see them get up into Intermediate football, and I believe now, we have a serious chance,” stated McGrath.

“We have already proved ourselves against Intermediate clubs in the past, so it is something I feel we will be more than capable of doing again if we get that chance. But we are in a tough league at the moment, and so we have to concentrate on that first.”

Belfast Telegraph