Rumori di Spogliatoio

Ojamaa's new coach comes from Ireland

Angelo PalmeriComment

'Rumori' tries to bring coverage of as many continental leagues as possible.

For the SSE Airtricity League (or also known as 'League oif Ireland') we are counting on the insider look of Keith O'Dwyer

Keith has worked for several years at the Irish club Sligo Rovers as he was the Club Promotion Officer and Secretary. He is now a volunteer within the club and the match commentator for local radio, Ocean FM.

'Radio Ireland' will bring stories and inside look from the Irish football realm.

Ian Baraclough mightn’t have been a name that would have been too well known among the football community in Estonia but I’m sure that will change now that he has been appointed boss of Scottish Premier League side Motherwell who count among their players Estonian international Henrik Ojamaa.

Personally I was delighted for Ian to have got such a prestigious job.

I got to know him very well during our time together at Sligo Rovers - just another growing addition to the links between Sligo and Estonia!
I was Club Promotions Officer and Club Secretary at the time and just before the start of the 2012 season our then manager Paul Cook had left to become manager of Accrington Stanley in England. That left us looking for a manager and out of a process that had over 40 candidates he was the outstanding choice and was appointed on the Tuesday with our first league game on the Friday night. That game away against Shelbourne ended in a 1-1 draw with Rovers equalising in stoppage time. The rest of that season couldn’t have been scripted as Baraclough led the club to what was our first league title in 34 years.

The title winning game was a in typical Sligo Rovers fashion a dramatic one as we beat nearest challengers St. Patrick’s Athletic 3-2 with the winner being a 95th minute penalty! There were over 7,500 people in the Showgrounds that day with the celebrations lasting for weeks.

Everyone from player to club official to supporter was impressed with Baraclough and his demeanour on and off the pitch. He brought a new sense of professionalism and organisation to the club and I for one was particularly impressed with the amount of preparation that he did ahead of every game, where possible he tried to leave nothing to chance. A true gentleman he was rewarded for all of his hard work that season. His chances of retaining the league the following were hindered when two of our best players left to sign for Shamrock Rovers, they were offered two year contracts which Sligo Rovers couldn’t offer. Still 2013 was another good year for the club as we finished third and also won the FAI Ford Cup in what was one of the most exciting finals for years. Again it was a 3-2 victory and again it was an injury time winner, this time the 98th minute! 

2013 was also the first year that there were the first sign of discontent among some of the club’s management committee and a minority of supporters and these were to prove foreboding. This season the league campaign never took off but still Baraclough delivered silverware as Rovers beat Dundalk 1-0 to win the Setanta Sports Cup (the same cup I am holding in the above picture), the first time that the club had won that competition and also the first time that Rovers had won a cross border competition. His reward was to get the sack during the mid-season break in June, in my opinion that was the wrong call and a harsh one.

He had earned and deserved the right to see out the season but as those of us who are involved with the game know all too well politics and fickleness often accompany success and Baraclough was the victim of both. He left Rovers as the club's greatest ever manager in terms of delivering success and while some have tried to downplay his achievements it is more related to their pettiness than anything else. He will have learned a lot from his time with Rovers as he did from his first job managing Scunthorpe in the English Championship. He will be the better for his experiences and I know that he was frustrated to have been out of work but that is all gone now as he has in essence been fired upwards now that he has taken over at Fir Park.

I know that he wasn’t the most high profile of the candidates who had applied for the job but he will win over the Motherwell supporters and will take the team away from the bottom of the table. As when he was at Rovers the players will enjoy his training sessions and the style of football that he will bring as well. It’s always heartening to see a good guy getting rewarded and while his time with Rovers didn’t end in a manner befitting what he had achieved his appointment at Motherwell shows that he was recognised in the game. Now I will have to start planning a trip over to Fir Park!!

Until the next time,

Keith O’Dwyer.

Just a postscript to highlight how a meticulous a manager Ian Baraclough is.

When we were drawn to play Slovakian side Spartak Trnava in the Europa League qualifiers in 2012, it would be fair to say that we didn’t know a lot about them. The way Ian approached the tie was more thorough than that of any other Rovers manager I had known. He made contact with European scouts who he knew to get a breakdown of their squad and also some dvd’s of them in action. He also went over to Trnava to watch them play a league game which was something that was unusual as we had never known a manager to do that when it came to our European games. While Trnava got the better of Rovers overall it just highlighted what sort of professional manager Baraclough was and no doubt still is.