The Dundalk Hawk swoops in to help Kernaghan at Iveagh Park
Linfield legend Dessie Gorman says joining Rathfriland is the perfect move for him.
The former Windsor Park hero has taken over from Shane Reddish as John Kernaghan’s assistant.
Reddish moved back to England for a new job and now Gorman is excited at what he can help the club achieve.
“Having been away from senior teams for a few years, this is a great opportunity for me,” he said.
“I wanted to get back to senior football but I wanted to wait for the right opportunity. I wanted to go to a club who wanted to do something, not just be happy to sit in mid-table. I turned down a couple of offers because the clubs had no real ambition.
“John wants to win every game and get in good young players. I was very taken back by some of the things he was saying. He knows what he wants to do, needed somebody to give him a hand and he felt I was the man.
“We have a great opportunity here to build a team to win things. It’s a good chance for me.”
Boss Kernaghan said: “We’re all very excited to get Dessie on board. It took a bit of work but we got him.”
As a player, Gorman had little to learn, winning titles with the top clubs in Ireland as he picked up trophies with Shelbourne, Dundalk and Derry City before his move to Linfield in 1992.
Since retiring in 2004, Gorman has cut his teeth as a coach with a trophy-laden spell with Bessbrook in the Carnbane League.
Now he wants to add his own personal coaching methods to John Kernaghan’s Rathfriland.
“Hopefully we will have a style of football that the players and fans will enjoy,” he said.
“We’re now working hard to get in footballers who fit in with the way we want to play. We’re looking at games in Belfast and Newry to see what’s available and who fits in with the way we want to play. “I have a style of coaching that is maybe different than everybody else but it worked at Bessbrook.
“After Bessbrook, I was involved with coaching Lurgan Town U12s for a couple of years but now I have the chance to return to men’s football.”
During his spell at Bessbrook, Gorman even helped to develop Warrenpoint goal-scorer supreme Daniel Hughes and his team-mate Kenny Kearns, both of whom are now starring in the Premiership.
“Sometimes you can get in young players who have maybe lost their way a little bit and revive them. Sometimes it takes a firm hands and other times it doesn’t but that’s all man-management I suppose,” he mused.
Dessie also worked alongside the man he is replacing at Rathfriland as the duo managed Loughgall in 2007. Gorman was even tempted back out onto the pitch at the age of 42 but says there’s no chance of another cameo appearance in the white Rathfriland shirt.
He said: “I was working as assistant to Shane Reddish and he talked me into getting the boots on. I like to keep myself fit and do a bit with the boys. Then when the season kicks in, like any footballer, I get the hunger to play and that over-rides everything but I’ll not be doing it this time. I’ll leave it to the younger lads.”
Gorman won everything on offer at Linfield, claiming the league, the Irish Cup, League Cup, Floodlit Cup, County Antrim Shield and the Gold Cup and became a real fans’ favourite in the process.
“I really enjoyed my time at Linfield,” he said.
“They came at the right time for me. They just told me to go out and play football and everybody appreciated the way I did it, which was nice.
“I won everything, North and South, some things twice or three times but everybody knew me for the way I played. That’s what I try and instil in my players.
“John wants to play that way too, which attracted me to Rathfriland. John knows his stuff when it comes to football. If we weren’t singing off the same hymn-sheet, it wouldn’t be for me.”
Kernaghan is looking forward to the new season with just as much enthusiasm and has already begun to assemble his squad for the new season as striker Darren McGrath has signed a new contract with the club.
“I’m delighted to get Darren signed up again,” he said.
“There were a couple of other clubs in for him so it’s great that he has decided to stay. It’s a major signing for us. It shows we really mean business and hopefully I will be able to bring in another major player for us in the near future.
“We’re looking to work with youth and build for the future.
“Dessie’s a winner. He did his homework on the club and wants to make a real go of things here.”
Kernaghan took over at the club at the end of December and is delighted with how his time in charge is panning out: “We did very well from the position we found the club in. We were in 10th place with 17 points and finished in sixth with 39 so we were pleased with how things went.”
The Rangers players are currently enjoying their summer break before pre-season begins on the 1st July.