INTERVIEW: Kirk and Rathfriland like “a right hand in a left handed glove”

Paul Kirk talking to players at training during his stint as Rathfriland Rangers manager.
Paul Kirk talking to players at training during his stint as Rathfriland Rangers manager.
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Dismissed Rathfriland Rangers manager Paul Kirk says he and the club proved to be a bad fit.

The former Lisburn Distillery boss lost the support of a majority of the committee despite bringing the Border Cup to Iveagh Park for the first time just 22 days ago and leading Rangers to the top of the Amateur League.

Kirk guided the club to their first ever Border Cup success on December 27.

Photographer - Matt Mackey / Press Eye

Kirk guided the club to their first ever Border Cup success on December 27. Photographer - Matt Mackey / Press Eye

Kirk had what he called a “constructive meeting” with the club vice-chairman and another committee member on Wednesday and he said they “agreed to differ but didn’t fall out about it.”

“We did agree that the atmosphere within the club was poor,” continued Kirk, “considering we had just won the Border Cup and are sitting top of the table.
“I’m appreciative that I was given the opportunity and I was proud to work under Junior (Howard Murray - club chairman). Some of the committee members that have been in touch find it an appalling decision but it’s done, that’s football and you have to get on with it.

“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.

Paul Kirk (left) and coach Stevie Houston (right) are welcomed to Iveagh Park by Rathfriland chairman Howard Murray last summer. Photo: Iain McDowell / Rathfriland FC

Paul Kirk (left) and coach Stevie Houston (right) are welcomed to Iveagh Park by Rathfriland chairman Howard Murray last summer. Photo: Iain McDowell / Rathfriland FC

“It’s a right hand in a left handed glove with respect to myself and the club. It just doesn’t fit. There are different attitudes.

“It was a good six months but I don’t think the problems will 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.”

There have been allegations made on social media that money lies behind a lot of discontent at the club - reports that Kirk denies.

“It’s an Amateur League club and it is an Amateur League club,” he said. “I’m not aware of any payments made. There is talk which could be levelled at any club.”

Kirk was Lisburn Distillery manager for over a decade until 2009, securing regular European qualification. He then managed Lisburn Rangers.

Kirk moved to Rathfriland Rangers in the summer, with players such as Peter McCann and David Graham following in his footsteps.

“I’m going to take a break now and watch my grandson playing,” concluded Kirk. “I’ll go over to Scotland and see my other grandchildren and spend time with my son.”

Meanwhile, Rathfriland are hoping to have a new manager in place before the end of the week.

“It’s an internal matter and we have no comment to make,” said club chairman Junior Murray.