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The end of an era

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The end of an era thumbnailArmagh City are on the hunt for a new manager after Marty Rice ended his seven year spell in charge at Holm Park. SG1999

MARTY Rice has ended his seven year reign as Armagh City manager following their defeat to Newry City AFC in the promotion/relegation play-off last week.
City suffered a shock 7-1 aggregate defeat at the hands of their local rivals and as a result they will play their league football in the third tier of Northern Irish football next season.
Speaking to the Ulster Gazette on Monday morning Rice admitted that he had done almost everything that he had set out to achieve with the Holm Park side.
“I've done nearly everything that I set out to accomplish when I took over in 2010 and I have so many amazing memories of my time in the role, but I feel that the time is right to step aside.
“When I look back at it, I gave so many opportunities to so many top young local players and I gave them a chance to play in some massive games and cup finals.
“We upset the odds on so many occasions and we scared some big teams along the way and nothing gave me more pride than giving those young players a platform and letting them express themselves and enjoy the game."
Rice admitted that his final season in charge has been one to forget for everyone at the club.
“It has been a nightmare season and I always used to look at other clubs and wonder how on earth they found themselves in that position.
“A million and one things have gone wrong this season, unavailability of players, injuries and transfers not working out and believe me when you are down their fighting for your lives thing just don't go for you and you don't get the rub of the green.
“It has been difficult to put my finger on what exactly went wrong, but the squad and the club needs completely rebuilt and I feel it is better for them to do that in the Premier Intermediate League than in an unforgiving league like the Championship."
Rice believes that the club need to continue to trust their young players and give opportunities to best local talent.
“With the changes in the leagues, there are very few easy games in the Championship and perhaps taking the hit and dropping down a league will allow the club to throw in the young players and give them that opportunity like I did when I took over.
“I think in the long term it will be beneficial for the club and they may go down and start to win games, start enjoying the game again and there will be a bit less pressure for the players and the club.
“For young players it is very difficult to enjoy the game and develop, if you are losing every game and hopefully next season the new manager can come in and give the young players a chance and let them enjoy the game again."
Over the years City have gone toe to toe with the likes of Glentoran, Dungannon Swifts, Ards and Linfield and Rice said he has so many wonderful memories of his time in charge.,
“I have so many fantastic memories, probably too many to talk about, but I have done what I set out to achieve when I took over.
“I told the committee when I took over that I would build a team from youth players and local talent and bring them up and I was told by many that I would never do it.
“I got a very talented squad of local players back up into the second tier and last year we finished third in the Championship and we could have set up a play-off for a tilt at going up to the top-flight.
“However, we didn't have the correct license to go up and Institute took our place and I always said every year that we needed to improve and progress and if you don't work at things then you will fall back.
“If you are simply happy to stay where you are then you will go backwards and unfortunately that is what happened and the only objective that I didn't achieve was getting City back into the Premier League."
Rice said that several managers have begun to follow the method he used when he took over back in 2010 and said that he takes great pride from what he achieved with that group of players.
“I was fortunate that I had a really good grounding learning under the likes of Ivor McGucken, Gary McKinstry and Tony Clarke.
“When I eventually took over I had sat down and observed things at the club and I had a very clear plan of what I was going to do and how I was going to achieve it.
“I guess as a player I was probably someone who got frustrated by the same old faces moving from club to club and I always felt that the young players were neglected and held back.
“I always wanted to take on that sort of challenge and give young players a platform at City and I would have always rather signed an 18/19 year old with promise than a 32/33 year old for a temporary solution.
“Even last Friday night I had some players in the changing room who had been with me all the way and I take great pride in that and how they stayed loyal to me right to the end.
“I gave them that opportunity to play at the highest level and it was a pleasure to watch them grow over the years."
Rice concluded by saying that he will not walk away from the game and admitted that he will take time to assess his options before making his next move.
“I can't see myself walking away from the game altogether, I don't think my wife would let me sit about the house on a Saturday.
“Since I was 11 years of age I have been obsessed by football and I love the game and love understanding it and learning new things and I will take time to sit down and see where my next move is."
An Armagh City spokesperson thanked Rice for his service and commitment during his seven years in charge.
“We would like to thank Marty for all the hard work he put in over the last seven years and for the success he brought to the club.
“We wish him well in his future endeavours.
“Marty will be a hard act to follow but we are determined to find the right candidate to take the club forward from this point and that search will begin immediately."

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