By CONNOR PARK
THE SCOTTISH Championship, much like the English, is often classed as one of the most difficult to get out of.
That statement has proved to be very true for Falkirk who are now into their seventh season of being in the division.
Undoubtedly the Bairns have one of the most astute and well-known managers within the Scottish game in Peter Houston, but there may not be too many who know his assistant, James McDonaugh.
A former Youth Team Coach at Hibernian, McDonaugh was chosen by Houston as his assistant and joined the Bairns in August 2014.
He has been an integral part of the success enjoyed at the Falkirk Stadium of late.
Already, McDonaugh can boast of a Scottish Cup runners-up medal and, of course, that memorable last season which ended just last May with defeat in the second leg of the Premiership Play-Off Final.
A lot was made of the Falkirk story from last season and the success of a team with a miniscule budget in comparison to Hibernian and Rangers.
Bairns boss Houston was on record a number of times last season crediting his assistant with the quality of training sessions that he prepared for the team.
There are undoubtedly similarities to that of James and the new Hearts management team of Ian Cathro and Austin McPhee.
McDonaugh himself only played football to Lowland League standard, but admits he has had no major issues in getting into the coaching scene despite not being a pro-player.
He said: “I haven’t had issues face to face. I played at Lowland League level but I think you earn respect in other ways.
“How you get your team playing, can you put on a good training session? This are the sort of things that affect your reputation.”
The Falkirk assistant is aware of criticism labelled towards the appointment of Cathro in particular, however he insists everyone deserves a chance.
He added: “I’ve known Ian Cathro for a number of years due to the involvement in youth football. I think people are sometimes too quick to judge, I’ve been on courses with him before.
“He’ll bring in new ideas but everyone deserves a chance. “
Despite being well-respected as a coach developing young players and as an assistant, McDonaugh of has, quite rightly, ambitions to be a manager in his own right. Despite that admission though, he is content with his role for the time being.
He commented: “People always ask when do you want to do it but you’ll know when the time is right.
“It might just be the right opportunity, but if that never comes along then hopefully I’ll have made a difference to many teams and players as a coach.
“It’s just one of those ones, do you want to manage at a junior level or be an assistant at the top level. I’m ambitious, but I’ll take things as they come.”