COLIN Healy didn’t expect to be patrolling the touchline as Cork City manager with four games of the season left, but the legendary midfielder, who has taken over from Neale Fenn for the remainder of the campaign, is ready to do what he can to preserve the club’s Premier Division status.
Tuesday's clash with Dundalk is the first of four as City look to get off the bottom of the table and, while Healy is fulfilling an ambition in one sense, he’s still adjusting to the circumstances.
“I didn’t expect it,” he admitted.
“It happened so quickly, I just got a call on Thursday morning asking me if I’d take over until the end of the season.
“It’s probably something that I always wanted to do anyway and I’m here now, so the work has started.”
Healy’s reign began last Friday with a 3-0 defeat away to Bohemians, though he and his assistants, Richard Holland and David Moore, had little opportunity to settle into their new roles.
“We had one day with the lads training,” he said.
“Bohs are a good side, they have been for a few seasons and it’s difficult going up there anyway.
“It was difficult for us to go up there that night – I thought we did okay but we gave away some silly goals. We’ve Dundalk now again and that’s going to be another very difficult game.
“The players need to be ready for it.”
For the Bohs game, Healy made five changes and brought in younger players like Jake O’Brien, Ricardo Dinanga and Cian Bargary. He is familiar with such players as head of the club’s academy and U19 manager, but he doesn’t discount the possibility of more changes against Filippo Giovagnoli’s side.
“I put in some lads,” he said, “I knew what they can do.
“There might be some changes again on Tuesday night, we just have to see how training goes.
“What I was is players that are going to give everything for the club and give everything for themselves.
“That’s all I ask, that everyone who comes in gives it 100 percent. That’s what we need from now until the end of the season.
“I need people to show me in training that they want to play and get in the team; when you get in the team, put in a performance and stay in the team.
“Nobody wants to sit on the bench or in the stand. It’s an opportunity when you come in to go and perform and keep the jersey.
“Just because I picked a few lads on Friday night doesn’t mean they’re going to be playing again. We as a coaching staff have to pick a team that’s right to play against Dundalk.”
For so long, when John Caulfield and Stephen Kenny were in charge of the respective sides, these games went a long way towards defining first and second in the end-of-year standings.
Now, City are bottom while it looks like Dundalk will have to surrender second place to Bohs, though the Louth club have qualified for the Europa League group stage.
After the Bohs loss, Healy said the City players had to learn to be confident again and it’s something he knows he has to play a part in.
“Sometimes, you have to be on the training ground to see that stuff,” he said.
“Now that we’re on the training ground, I see a lot more than what you’d see on a Friday night or a Saturday night.
“It’s up to me and the coaching staff to get the best out of these players now and that’s what we’re going to do.”
After Dundalk, there is another home game on Saturday as Waterford visit Turner’s Cross and then City are away to Sligo Rovers before finishing up their campaign at home to Derry City on October 30.
Healy isn’t setting any points targets or anything like that, though – all of the focus is on the immediate task at hand.
“First and foremost, we’ll look after Tuesday’s game,” he said, “we’re not looking any further than that.
“We’ll get ready for Dundalk and that’s all we can do. We’re not even looking at the next game at the weekend against Waterford.
“It’s all about Dundalk on Tuesday night. It has to be – you can’t look any further.”