Eddie Knowles is named new Clon junior trainer
BY KIERAN McCARTHY
CLONAKILTY won’t endure a long stay in Munster Junior League Division 2, according to former manager Steve Forde.
Clon slipped out of Division 1 after an 11th place finish in the league took their destiny out of their hands, and coupled with Kanturk’s relegation from Division 2C of the Ulster Bank League and Clonmel’s failure to win promotion to senior level, the West Cork club has been relegated to Division 2.
The club has now decided to part ways with Steve Forde and it has already appointed his successor, Eddie Knowles, a Clonakilty native and former player who was in charge of the Clon U16s this past season.
‘We’ve gone back to basics and have decided to appoint from within. We have had outside coaches in the past but we feel now after going down to Division 2 that we need to regroup,’ club fixtures secretary Barry Kirby confirmed.
‘We want to thank Steve Forde, he did a lot for us and we appreciate everything he has done, but it was the unanimous decision of the committee that felt it was time for change.’
Eddie Knowles started and finished his career with Clonakilty and also played senior rugby for a spell with Dolphin, while he also coached Ballincollig juniors in the past.
The man that Knowles has replaced, former Welsh international Steve Forde is disappointed that he can’t continue the job and rebuild that he started – but he feels Clonakilty can bounce back into Division 1 quite quickly.
‘It’s very disappointing for such a good young team to be relegated,’ Forde said.
‘For having such a young age profile the way they developed on the field was exceptional.
‘There were some games that we should have won but we slipped up in at key moments or made poor decisions – but you’re going to get that with young players who are learning the game.
‘No team wants to go down a division but sometimes by taking one step back it allows you to take two forward. Ideally we didn’t want to go to Division 2 because I feel Clonakilty would have been well capable of being competitive in Division 1 in the forthcoming season because the younger group has started its growth and are progressing well.’
Hailing the Clonakilty team as one of the most enjoyable groups that he has coached, the experienced Forde thinks that Division 2 will offer the team a chance to make winning a habit, which can be the springboard to bigger and better things.
‘I think they’ll do well in Division 2, as long as they get it right,’ he said.
‘The process of Clonakilty development has to come from Clonakilty. It’s not about external development, bringing in X and Y, and different players. To develop the culture in the club has to come from the club itself.
‘I think they’ll compete very well. If they keep the brand of rugby that we tried to play this year, they’ll be successful with it.
‘The biggest element that I tried to influence in my short period there was the culture, and the fact that they had lost so many games that it’s important to get them winning again – but that doesn’t happen overnight.’
Forde admits he would have enjoyed the challenge of returning the club to Division 1 next season, but he understands the decision Clon have made.
‘I am gutted, it’s a fantastic group, I can’t speak highly enough of the individuals on the pitch,’ he said.
‘It takes time to build an infrastructure in the club, that doesn’t happen overnight. I wanted the club to have a long-term plan but I don’t know whether they wanted what I wanted – and I totally understand that as well.
‘It’s an absolutely fantastic club, I love it to bits, I’m gutted I won’t be coaching them next year but I wish them all the best.’
A young Clonakilty team won only three of their 13 Division 1 games this season.