CORK CITY midfielder Cian Coleman is keen to make up for lost time when the SSE Airtricity League resumes at the end of this month.
Having last played at the beginning of March, City are back in league action on July 31 when Bohemians visit Turner’s Cross, while there is a Munster Senior Cup semi-final against Midleton at Bishopstown a week before that.
Coleman, who played for City U19s in the Uefa Youth League in 2016, had rejoined the club for the current campaign and was settling back in when the spread of Covid-19 dictated that sport had to stop.
“It was tough,” he says.
“We didn’t really have a return date for nearly two months so when we actually got the news that we’d be back.
“Everyone was ready anyway because we had given programmes to keep up with when we were off. Once we were back, everyone was flying at it.”
The training itself wasn’t a problem for Coleman, who began his career at schoolboy level with Everton.
“Some fellas might say it is tough but I don’t mind that side of it,” he says.
“Obviously, it is hard work but you just have to have it in your head that, the harder you work, the better it’ll be for you.
“In that case, there was nothing else to do because it was lockdown, it was the only thing you could do. That way, it was a good thing to get you out of the house.
“It was mostly physical stuff. If you didn’t have access to a gym, you had to do the work at home and you’d be running on your own. If you had a ball, obviously you could go out the back and kick it off the wall but you couldn’t meet up with anyone and work on those things.”
And, if there was a silver lining, it was the fact that the time out helped him to get back to full fitness after picking up a knock against Shelbourne in City’s league opener in February.
“In the first game of the season, I picked up an ankle injury,” Coleman says.
“One positive I could take was that it allowed me to fully recover from that. Even when I came back, I wasn’t fully 100 percent but I was getting there. The break was the best thing for the ankle.
“Now, everyone wants to play and to be competitive, that’s why we’re raring to be back.
“It’s 13 games and they’re all cup finals, really. Everyone has to be at it and we’re all looking forward to it.”
After leaving City, Coleman helped Cobh Ramblers go close to winning promotion from the first division in 2017 before joining Limerick in 2018 and spending last year with St Patrick’s Athletic.
However, he always hoped that he would come back to Turner’s Cross.
“Wherever else I was, I was always watching City’s results,” he says.
“I always had the hope that I’d get back there some day and I was willing to take whatever chance I had to make that happen.
“I’m delighted to be back now, it was an easy decision when Neale got in touch. When I had to leave, it was a case that I wasn’t going to play because I was young and there were so many good players ahead of me.
“I had to just get out and play first-team football and the three years benefited me a lot, especially the two in the Premier Division.
“I feel that I’ve come back now a better player with more experience. You can’t just stick around and train, there’s nothing like playing actual matches when you’re young.
“Training with the first team at City a few years ago did help me but it’s only when you get out and play that you really see what it’s all about.”
Adding to the allure of City was the chance to work again with Joe Gamble, who has joined as assistant to Neale Fenn. Coleman’s fellow Everton man had been involved at Limerick when the midfielder was there and he was keen to link up again.
“I know Joe very well,” he says, “he was a big help to me and he was a factor in me coming here.
“I know what he’s like, he’s demanding of players and he was obviously a midfielder himself so I’ve learned a lot from him.”
He has also been very impressed with Fenn’s mode of management.
“Neale has been very good,” Coleman says.
“Not to disrespect any of the managers I’ve had in the past but they’ve been around a long time. This is only Neale’s second job and he brings a freshness to it in terms of the way he wants us to play.
“Obviously, he played with City before and he loves the club, you can see the passion that he has. It’s been very good to work under him so far.
“We’ve had a long enough time off so everyone is just itching now to get back for the first game.
“In training, everybody’s up for it and getting after each other. It’s going well at the moment, we just have to bring that into the matches and pick up points when we’re back.”
Later this evening the FAI will release the new fixtures list for the remainder of the season, but Cork already know they start at home on Friday July 31 against Bohs.
The remaining 12 games will be played on either a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.