BENEFITTING from the underage structure in the club and having quality feeder teams to delve into is what makes a senior side successful.
A great start to the season saw College Corinthians secure a 1-0 victory over Munster Senior Cup champions Rockmount in the MSL and assistant manager Gary Hackett praises the underage system at the club.
“It was a huge win for us against Rockmount. Not many teams will go there and get three points so overall we are thrilled and will enjoy it but it’s only the first game so we can’t be getting ahead of ourselves,” said Hackett.
"We have many more big challenges ahead of us starting next weekend against a very strong Ringmahon team who are high on confidence after a big scoreline on Friday night also.”
Last Friday, Hackett stood in as manager while Joe Gamble travelled to the Brandywell for Cork City’s clash with Derry. Loving the responsibility of being in charge while Gamble is on duty with City, he is quick to praise the players, Gamble and other members of management in their part on match night.
“I have had to stand in as manager in the games Joe is missing due to work commitments with Cork City. I have enjoyed it immensely but we speak so often and are so clear on how we want to play, how we are to set up and other such vital elements of the game, that this is a smooth transition for the players.
"In our minds nothing changes. The players are the important pieces of this puzzle, not me or Joe.
“We also have an excellent backroom staff of Austin O’Connor, Eric McCarthy, Jim O’Mahony and Tony Noonan. All have excellent qualities that they bring to the squad.”
Hackett joined the club as assistant manager and coach back in 2018 when childhood friend Gamble asked him to get involved. Previous to this, Hackett was involved with his schoolboy club Everton, where he won six leagues as a schoolboy manager and also an U19 league. He also spent two years coaching Everton senior side.
The move from Everton to Corinthians was a surprise one at the time but one in which Hackett is really enjoying and last Friday’s win against Rockmount was an exciting win and one in which he hopes will push them on for the remainder of the season.
“Rockmount Park is a tough place to go to and you never get anything easy and last Friday was no different. Credit where its due they have been consistently one of the best teams in the MSL for the past number of years and will be one of the favourites in many people’s opinions to win the league this year.
"I thought we thoroughly deserved the win and was delighted with how our players adapted to the conditions and managed to play both sides of the game. We matched them physically which is a big ask and we were very honest and hungry in our application, that mixed in with quality is a good recipe and it worked well for us. We restricted them to two or three chances which I was thrilled with and a clean sheet is a huge bonus.
“We have a great mix of youth and experience in the squad but we will be younger than a lot of teams. We have really benefitted from the underage structure in the club and having quality feeder teams for us to delve into is credit to all those who have put in the work on that front.
"I don’t want to insult anyone by naming names and run the risk of forgetting someone but they know who they are and they know how much we appreciate their work. We have signed a few and a few have departed but all in all we are very similar to last season with the exception of three or four.
“Killian Cooper, Shane Daly Butz, Colin O’Mahony and Liam Cronin are great to have back and fully fit. We have a few other players who have just recently signed and while we are thrilled with the squad we have in place but should a quality player become available then we will explore that too. A few of the former youth players have been excellent for us in pre-season, Killian O Brien, Destiny Okonkwo, Daragh O’Sullivan Connell, Sean Cantillon, Jason O Riordan and Brian Simpson are all quality players for the future.
“The league and the Intermediate Cup are the aims for us, to win a league you need to be consistent over a long period of time and this is why it is so difficult to do. You need to cope with highs and lows and everything that is thrown at you and to me any team that wins that trophy it is a massive achievement.
“Intermediate cup also gets the blood flowing as you test your wits against Irelands best and once out of Cork you are flying the flag for the whole County not just your club.”
The 37-year-old father of one is looking forward to the season ahead and although he knows it will be a tough and competitive league, he expects they will be up there with top sides such as Rockmount and Ringmahon.
“The league will be extremely strong, a lot of former league of Ireland players are now playing in the league and the standard has risen again dramatically over the past number of seasons which is great.
“I still feel Rockmount and Ringmahon will be up there as they have maintained their squads and have added to them also but Avondale recruited well and I am hearing good things from Midleton so they may be the dark horses this year.
“We will be in with a boxer's chance too.”