After getting his first chance to coach with Lakewood at 17, Paul Farrell has moved to the next level with Cork City

After getting his first chance to coach with Lakewood at 17, Paul Farrell has moved to the next level with Cork City
Cork City Women's manager Ronan Collins with Paul Farrell during a game at Bishopstown. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

IN A normal week, Paul Farrell would be able to dovetail seamlessly between his job as a teacher and his career as a football coach.

Mornings to late afternoons, Monday to Friday, Farrell teaches at Regina Mundi College in Douglas before then resuming his role as the assistant manager of the Cork City women’s team.

But the outbreak of the coronavirus has changed all that, temporarily at least.

“It’s different,” he admits. “We train three or four times with the Cork City women’s and then I would help out with the Lakewood senior team as well when I can.

“I would nearly be out every night of the week doing football before all of this and when that is taken away from you, you have nothing left.

“I’m a secondary school teacher as well so we’ve gone online and it is a bit different to what we’re used to.

“You feel the days are nearly longer now because you are giving individual feedback and all that, you’re giving each student time and then you have to type it up so it takes that bit longer.

“But it’s been grand, the staff and the principal have been really good with us so it makes it easier.”

Of course, Farrell acknowledges that the public’s health and safety come first, quickly followed by his work at the school.

But football has been a huge part of his life from a young age when he joined Lakewood Athletic as a player before it quickly escalated into something more.

“I started coaching when I was 17 with Lakewood,” he recalls.

“When I was a player I was very good tactically. I had a very good knowledge of the game, I could read it very well but I suppose my fitness wasn’t the best so I couldn’t get around the park.

“But reading the game was my strength, I brought that into my coaching then, that I could see things, I could see things tactically so I could move players around on the pitch.

“I was still playing at the time but I did my kick-start one up in Vincent’s in the Northside and I just enjoyed it.

“Stephen O’Mahony was my tutor that day and he just really encouraged me to get into coaching, he said I had a good presence for my age.

“Lakewood then gave me an opportunity, I was 17 when they gave me an U14 team to coach but they trusted me and they allowed me to take the role. I really enjoyed putting on sessions for them, they are a really good club.”

After four years coaching the Ovens-based side, he was approached by Greg Yelverton to take over a team at UCC where he was able to call upon the likes of John Caulfield and Mick Conroy for advice.

Three trophies in three years followed before he progressed into a role with Ballinhassig’s senior team in the Munster Senior League.

It was during his stint there that he came into contact with Rónán Collins and after several conversations, he would make the move to Cork City in the summer of 2018.

“The U17s were coming up at the time so I thought it would be something to do with that, I thought I might be their assistant manager or something,” he added.

“But Rónán offered me the assistant manager role with the seniors and I just jumped at the chance to work with him.

“His knowledge of the game is phenomenal. He’s obsessed with the game, he eats, sleeps and breathes the world of football so it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down, I had to take it.

“I actually had my holidays booked and all so I accepted the job and then I went off for three weeks!

“We went to Jamaica, the Bahamas and Florida, it was lovely but I was back to reality quickly afterwards, my first game back was away to UCD Waves.”

That trip to Dublin ended in a 1-1 draw but it provided Farrell with his first glimpse behind the scenes at City and women’s football in general.

“I know people criticise women’s football at times but the dedication that they put in and the level of football they have is phenomenal,” he enthused.

“The girls are voluntary, they are amateur players playing elite football. Some of the girls train five or six times a week between our training sessions, college football or just their own sessions and that doesn’t include matches.

“It’s a phenomenal commitment that they put in and you must tip your hat to them.

“The overall club at Cork City, they have just embraced the women’s side and have put us under their wing.

“They have all been superb and that has helped us to develop over the last few years and we are only on the rise.

“Our squad is very young, our average age last year was only like 20 and a lot of our squad players are in their teens.

“For them to get this exposure at senior level is good and it only bodes well for the future of the women’s team at Cork City.”

The team’s development has been put on hold temporarily as the 2020 season was due to start on the 15th of March but it is now set to begin on June 28.

Unfortunately, that means another few weeks of this ‘different’ routine for the 28-year-old coach, although that hasn’t stopped him from thinking about his long term future.

“I just want to keep developing my coaching knowledge. I definitely still have loads of steps on the ladder to climb yet so I am still only at the start.

“I’m only really starting now with Cork City but hopefully in the future there is a big step coming,” he concluded.

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