Former County sporting director Kelly lands new job with League Two rivals

BEWEGUNG: Der frühere Sportdirektor von County, Darren Kelly, ist Hartlepool beigetreten <i>(Image: Huw Evans Agency)</i>” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/” data src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/”/</div>
<p><figcaption class=MOVEMENT: Former County athletic director Darren Kelly has joined Hartlepool (Image: Agency Huw Evans)

Former Newport County AFC sporting director Darren Kelly has joined League 2 rivals Hartlepool United in the same role.

The Irishman left Exiles Left Week with the club, stating it was “closer to home for a new opportunity”.

That opportunity comes with relegation-threatened Pools facing a Football League battle.

Victoria Park Club sacked manager Keith Curle after losing to County last week and appointed John Askey.

He will now work with Kelly and says he will “bridge the gap between the football department and the board”.

South Wales Argus: Former county sporting director Darren Kelly

South Wales Argus: Former county sporting director Darren Kelly

Former County athletic director Darren Kelly (Image: Agency Huw Evans)

“It’s a pleasure and an honor to be part of Hartlepool United and to help create a future everyone can be proud of,” said Kelly, who played two games as caretaker manager at County in October.

“I am very grateful to our chairman and our club for giving me this great opportunity. My plan and vision is to help build a strong football strategy for the long term future and success of Hartlepool United football club and that is something I am really excited about.

“I am very excited to get started and look forward to working closely with John Askey and the rest of the staff at Hartlepool United Football Club.”

County settled on an athletic director model in the summer of 2021, with Kelly initially working with Michael Flynn.

He then interviewed candidates for the position of new manager and shortlisted for the board in October the following year when James Rowberry got the job, repeating the task a year later when Graham Coughlan was appointed.

Kelly, who was based in North Wales rather than South, was responsible for recruiting and retention from academy to first team, as well as overseeing departments such as medicine, sports science and analysis.

However, Coughlan was in charge of the January transfer window, working alongside assistant manager Joe Dunne and Chris Finn, who has worked as a scout for Nottingham Forest, Cardiff, Norwich, Middlesbrough and Birmingham.

Whether County will opt for a different athletic director remains to be seen, but Hartlepool has opted for this model.

Chairman Raj Singh said: “We have been working towards the appointment of a sporting director or director of football over the past few years as we have developed things further.

“Although this season has been very tough and we are certainly not in the position where we wanted to be on the field, I felt it was important to continue with the progress and plans we have been making off the field.

“Ultimately, Darren’s role is to lead and support our football department to get better and he will oversee key areas including recruitment.

“He will also allow our manager and coaching staff to focus on the priority of coaching and developing the team.

“Darren has an excellent network of contacts and will no doubt be great over the summer and look beyond.”

Kelly will return to Rodney Parade with County in April as Pools, who loaned Exiles captain Matty Dolan in January, seeks to avoid relegation.

They are currently two points clear of relegation but Crawley has four games in hand.

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