By Jack Maguire
How are you feeling ahead of the new season?
Good, feeling good. We’re just coming off the back of, we had a few injuries and a few niggles over pre-season but just over the last couple of days we’ve had all the lads back training, we’ve avoided that part of pre-season without any major injuries so looking forward to getting into a few games now put a little shape on us and go from there. We’ve still got a little bit of business to do maybe two or three more to come in so looking forward to it now.
How has training been so far are things moving well?
Yeah good, really pleased. We gave them an off season programme that they’ve all come back in reasonable, most of them have come back in very good shape, a couple have come back in good shape so it saves us having to do the real heavy slogging during pre-season. Lads look after themselves better now, we try to make little improvements to the training ground, I know it’s not amazing here now but it’s just somewhere where they can come and eat, and we’re improving the gym here aswell so we’re putting in the foundations that we hope will improve their experience. We’re trying to create a league player environment, professional environment for the players and try and treat them like top level pro’s that they should be in this country. That’s what we’ve been working on and we think we’re doing ok.
After a poor campaign last season, going into this season what do you think is your key value?
Its important to us, its important to the whole city that everybody just gets behind us. We all want the best for the football club so there’s no point in people complaining, there’s no point in me complaining about I wish I had this, I wish I had that, or people saying it used to be like this, it used to be like that, it’s not now, this is what we are and we still need to unite and move forward and get us as high up the pitch as possible with young exciting players.
I know we can’t expect too much in the first season, but would you see Europe as a reasonable goal or is it more of a long-term goal over the next few seasons?
I think if we start saying where we think we’re going to finish we’re just setting ourselves up for failure, so my word to the players is just go out there and do your best every game. We’re trying to do our best every game whether that’s not good enough or its good enough you won’t know, but we’re going to go out, we’re not going to put any pressure on the boys or any pressure on myself or expectation on us that we certainly don’t need to do. So we’ll go out an try to win every game and try and play the way we play and try and attack them and try to get chances to score obviously goals if possible, and keep clean sheets at the other end, is that too much of an ask maybe
How do you feel the young players will step up and handle the responsibility?
Time will tell, it’s a big jump coming from 19’s football, its such a big club in the league, while it’s a big league so not sure they’ll all be ready for it, but there’ll be a couple that will definitely be pushing in. They’ve been pressed in training and will be pushing for a place but certainly it’s a big jump it’s a lot for us to expect but they’re just going to come straight from 19’s football part-time and straight into full-time football under pressure with the crowd watching them too, everyone’s got an opinion of how you play, its tough for them so we certainly won’t be throwing them all in, in one go but we’ll be picking the ones that do well in training and the ones that have impressed so far, they’ll play a part.
What’s the most rewarding thing about being a manager and what makes it all worthwhile, obviously winning but…
Just the collective group that you’ve worked so hard for whether it’s the week, the month, the year, whatever, that you achieve something that you’ve worked on, so whether that’s, whether you’ve kept a clean sheet when nobody else gave you a chance or whether you’ve won a game when nobody thought you were going to win, whether you’ve worked on a set piece, just seeing little bits like that, you’ve all worked together, and you’ve achieved something together so I think that’s the most important thing as a manager is that we’re all working together, we all want the same thing, we want to develop these players, we want to go see them do well, we want them to express themselves, we want the crowd to be happy, we want the press to be happy, we want the board to be happy, so if everyone’s happy, I’m happy.
What would you say to encourage students to come out to Turners Cross and support Cork City?
I’d say it’s a great evening out, you can go and have a drink in your local pubs, not that I condone drinking at any stage. At the ground you can come in, there’s nice food, you’ll watch a good game of football, you’ll be supporting your local club and your local community, even if you’re from out of town, it’s something to do on a Friday Night, its good entertainment.
Cork City acquired the signings of Henry Ochieng from Wingate & Finchley FC, Joe Redmond on loan from Birmingham U23, and Reyon Dillon who most recently played for Corinthian Casuals on the same day I met Neale. He gave his verdict on the new lads.
We’re lighter in defence, Conor McCarthy obviously leaving was a blow to us, we didn’t want it to happen but it did so we feel that we’ve replaced him with certainly a good prospect, Joe Redmond, an Irish kid who I would have known a good few years ago before he went playing for Joey’s and just being aware of him so when it came up the possibility that we could take him, he came in and trained with us just to see what he thought of the place really and he liked it here, really thought it was somewhere he wanted to go. Birmingham are happy that he’s coming here and he’s going to be playing and training full time, so it ticks all the boxes for what we want. Henry would have been someone that I would have had at Leyton Orient when I was there, so I know Henry, been aware of him, tried to get him last year, didn’t happen, but managed to get him this year. Reyon is a striker that I’ve seen playing in non-league football when I was in England at Orient, he played against one of our younger teams and I thought he did ok, little bit of a project but happy that he’s here.
Neale also confirmed that Gearóid Morrissey will be captain for the coming season.
Gearóid Morrissey will be the captain, it feels natural just to give it to him really. I’m not a big one for, I think everyone should be leaders and I think everyone in the dressing room should lead the group, so Gearóid will be there, the main man.
When speaking about experience in the squad, Fenn spoke about Gearóid and other senior members of the team.
It’s very important, Gearóid, it probably doesn’t come naturally to Gearóid to be honest. He’s not the loudest lad, he just likes to get about his business, don’t get me wrong, great lad, a winner obviously from where he’s been but he’s not a rally the troops kind of fella, but I’m sure he’ll make everybody feel welcome in the dressing room, which is why Mark McNulty and Alan Bennett, it’s great that they’re still here. They add that little bit of experience, they help, they’re coaching now as well which is great for both of them but they’re still getting their boots on and going out on the pitch so you know it’s important to me, important to us that we kept a core of Cork players, and obviously those three are the most experienced.
Neale Fenn announced Joe Gamble as his assistant manager shortly after his arrival on Leeside. Neale spoke about Joe’s role and his importance to the club.
He’s been great, he’s doubling up a little bit as the strength and conditioning which he loves. I’ve known Joe from since I’ve been here and we always talked, we shared the same idea’s on football, how it should be played, so it’s great that he’s with me, and we see the game the same way, not that we don’t argue, we argue all the time but listen I think that’s healthy, I think we can disagree all the time, which we do, and obviously he’s got the background of professional football, he’s professional, he knows what we want, he’s demanding on the players and it’s great to have him.
Dundalk started the season quite badly last year for them and won the league so, I think it’s more important from a mental point of view, from the fans maybe, from us, we just want to see that we’re making progress. So if we go out, we lose the first couple of games, but we can see that we’ve made progress, then we can see that we’re going in the right direction. If we go out and get thumped in the first three games and we can’t see any progress then obviously, on the other side of that if we go out and win the first three games we won’t think we’ve cracked it and we’re going to win the league so it’s just about keeping level headed, never get too high about a result, never get too low about it. Believe in the process is an old saying but we certainly will believe in that, we believe what we’re doing is the right thing, and if it doesn’t work the first couple of games, we’ll tweak it here and there, but certainly if we win the first few games, we won’t get carried away, and if we lose the first few games we won’t get carried away.
Speaking about the 3 tricky opening games to the league campaign in close proximity, Neale has confidence in his team.
Yeah, I think if we were playing away to Bohs, or playing away to Derry people would say that’s a tricky start as well so you know there’s no easy games, it’s an old cliché, and we’re just going to go with a game plan of how we think we’re going to get the best result. It’s a difficult start but then that’s what we’re here for, we want to be going to these places, that’s why the players are here, they want to be playing against Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk, they’ll be looking forward to it, I’ll be looking forward to it and I hope everyone else see’s what we’re trying to do