WALSALL assistant manager Richard O’Kelly has told The Star he holds no ill feeling towards former employers Doncaster Rovers and is tipping the club to flourish in League One.
Although O’Kelly and ex-Rovers manager Sean O’Driscoll steered the South Yorkshire outfit into the Championship, the duo were given their marching orders last September following a sluggish start to the season.
Having accrued just one point from the opening seven matches, Rovers board dispensed with O’Kelly and O’Driscoll’s services, electing to put Dean Saunders in charge of first-team affairs. Saunders’ arrival briefly lifted the gloom at the Keepmoat Stadium but the likeable Welshman could not save Rovers from relegation.
Speaking ahead of Walsall’s showdown with Rovers this weekend, OKelly insists he holds no grudge over his exit.
He said: “I had five great years at Doncaster Rovers and met some really good people at the football club.
“I have nothing but happy memories of my time there. There are loads of nice people there but I have moved on and I am at Walsall now.
“To me, this is just another game. I haven’t really thought about when I left. If you start thinking ‘what about this or what about that’ you just end up going around in circles.”
After being given the boot by Rovers, O’Kelly spent four months coaching at Walsall on a voluntary basis last season before taking the Hereford United job in March. Despite winning their last two matches, the Bulls slipped out of League Two. O’Kelly turned down the chance to stay on at Edgar Street and also rejected the advances of O’Driscoll over the summer. O’Driscoll offered O’Kelly a coaching role when he managed Crawley Town but O’Kelly snubbed the invitation and instead took up the No 2 position at the Banks’s Stadium.
“I have just got on with my life since leaving Rovers and I had other things on my mind last year so I didn’t spend a great deal of time worrying about them,” he said. “What I do know is that they seem to have got through their mini crisis.
“I know they got relegated but they have recruited a lot of good players who are experienced at this level. Players like Jamie McCombe and Rob Jones know the league inside out.
“They have some excellent players so I think they will do really well in the division this season. Rovers have certainly got enough good players to be there or thereabouts.”