McKee attracted by club's vision
Enniskillen have appointed Alasdair McKee as their new head coach for the upcoming season.
The former Ulster Junior coach will host his first pre-season training session next week, and although he is still to fully assess the players at his disposal he is hopeful he can propel the Skins back into Qualifying One.
"I think there is potential at the club," said the new recruit. "There are players here that have a hunger to do well, and the job is to get that focussed and honed. If we can then I think we can do really well. You never want to make rash statements about what you are going to achieve but at the same time you have to have a positive mind, and I think the boys have that, and in pre-season we will find that. The target is to be competitive in the league. I have quite a lot of experience in that league over the years and its always very fine margins. There is never much in it, but you often find there are two sides that break away and set the pace, and it would be nice to be one of those clubs."
As well as maximising the potential of last season's squad Alasdair is keen to add a few new faces to the team, and has already secured the services of Donagh O'Callaghan from Donegal Rugby Club, who can play either as a number 10 or an inside centre.
"I don't know much about the current squad apart from some of the guys I've met recently," he admitted. "I've been finding out about players, and we had a players meeting. There had been one or two mentioned to me during my time with the Junior, but nothing much really came of it. I am going to have to assess the squad over the pre-season, and it helps that we will have one or two players coming in."
Alasdair has a long rugby history, although he has very previous few Fermanagh connections.
As a student he started playing rugby with Rainey, and after a spell at University he played for Cookstown Rugby Club.
After a few years playing in mid Ulster he moved house to Templepatrick, where he still resides, and it was at that point he began a long association with Academy.
He first donned their shirt in 2000 but after a few years took up a position as assistant coach with Randalstown. In 2006 he returned to Academy, where he spent one year as an assistant coach before taking over as head coach. During his time in charge the team twice gained promotion, moving from qualifying three to qualifying one. In recent years Alasdair undertook a coaching role with the Ulster Junior team, and became an IRFU level 2 qualified coach.
When Alasdair saw the post of head coach advertised for Enniskillen he spoke to the club, and was impressed with their plans for the future.
"I had seen Enniskillen advertising a couple of times and I was at the stage where I was considering putting my head above the parapet," he said. "I had been contacted by a club in the Leinster league and I was talking to them at that stage as well, but after speaking to Enniskillen I was pleased with how open they were about what they wanted to do. They seemed very forthright and a good bunch of guys who seemed to have a good vision about where they wanted to go."
Having gained experience of what it takes to secure promotion, Alasdair is hoping that he can introduce a style of rugby to Mullaghmeen that will bring success. "I would be a big fan of a fifteen man game," he said. "The props have to carry and offload, pass and tackle like a full back. I think that possession is nine tenths of the law and I would like to be playing a ball in hand game where we are controlling the pace of the game. Of course you have to play a kicking game as well, but you have to play it at the right time and not kick possession away early. My style has probably become more that way over the past couple of years. I've learnt after a couple of seasons in in qualifying one that it's the team in possession of the ball that takes the game, and the same has to apply in qualifying two."
Alasdair cannot wait to get started on what he hopes will be a successful campaign. "I'm really looking forward to it," he admitted. "I'd just like to get on with it now. I'm not one for making predictions because the proof will be in the pudding, but we will get our heads down and get through pre-season and get the league started. Then we can assess things again when we are a month in."
The team start their pre-season training on July 17, and they have home matches arranged against Ballina, Dromore and Strabane before the competitive league action gets underway.
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter 12 Jul 12