FOUR months ago, I believed the League of Ireland season would be null and void. In my mind, I was preparing for retirement.
Instead of doing short and sharp runs to get myself ready for when the season resumed, I was doing my own half marathons.
I starting trying to adjust to life without football. Looking for full-time employment in a different industry had been my goal throughout lockdown; but if I didn’t know it before, I do now, just how tough it is to get a job and especially for someone like me, who has only played football as a job and lacks any real experience.
It really only has been the last fortnight that I started to believe that I would play football professionally again, but at that stage, I certainly didn’t think it would be for Cork City.
I left the club officially last December but had been on loan at Shamrock Rovers for the five months prior to that and never believed that I would play for the club again.
I was quite happy with Waterford. Yes, I hadn’t played as much games as I had hoped, but I was starting to get into the team before the suspension of the league and even then, I felt hard done by that I hadn’t played more, because I believed I had been one of our most consistent performers during pre-season — only then to be dropped for the first game.
If it had been any club other than City, I wouldn’t have been interested in having a conversation with the manager.
There are a lot of factors to consider when moving club. The location, the size of the club, is it a good team, and what it will mean financially?
Players sometimes have to make sacrifices to secure a move, whether that be relocating their family or taking a hit financially.
In my case, it was that latter, but moving back to City means getting to spend more time with my family while also playing with my hometown club.
I think what has surprised most people about my switch is the fact that I could operate as a centre-back.
Of course, if a player has played as a striker for most of his career, twice with the club he has just joined for a third time, supporters are going to be sceptical — but wait until you actually see me play in my new position before you judge me.
I read some negative comments over the past few days about me playing as a defender, but it’s where I played for Waterford this season and if I didn’t think I was capable of playing there, I wouldn’t.
I’m my own biggest critic. If I think I can’t do something, I don’t need someone else telling me, because I’ll know myself.
For years, as a striker, I’ve lacked confidence that players need to really go far in the game but as a centre-back, I have a different mindset. I know I can succeed, whereas a striker, I always questioned my own ability.
I’ve been back training one week and it’s a different club to the one I last played for nearly a year ago. Besides all the regulations due to Covid-19, it’s strange being in Bishopstown and not seeing Karl Sheppard or Conor McCormack.
It is a different squad, certainly a younger squad and I know I have a different role to play than the one I had during my previous spell at City.
There were a lot of senior players at City last year but the same cannot be said this year and I know I need to set an example for the younger players. I always tried to learn off the senior players when I was younger, so hopefully, I can help the younger players in the team and give them advice when I think they need it.
It’s just over two weeks until our first game at Turner’s Cross against Bohemians and I was happy to see the game will be played on a Sunday.
I’ve only been back training one week and need as much time to prepare as possible, so having two extra days will benefit not just me but also the team.
The fact that they were one of the teams that were allowed to return to training several weeks before other clubs will make Bohs one of the most difficult teams to play against at the League’s resumption