WATCH: Cork City legend George O'Callaghan is back on Leeside and ready to help his former team-mates

WATCH: Cork City legend George O'Callaghan is back on Leeside and ready to help his former team-mates

Denis Behan, George O'Callaghan, Joe Gamble, Achille Campion celebrate Neale Fenn's opening goal during the Alan Bennett testimonial at Turner's Cross. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

GEORGE O’CALLAGHAN is loving life on Leeside and, having recently been inducted into Cork City FC’s hall of fame, O’Callaghan is willing to give back to his home town club, Cork City.

From his experiences as a successful footballer he hopes he can be of help to Neale Fenn and the club.

The Whitechurch native was honoured to have picked up his recent award at a function held in Paddy the Farmers. Along with his ex-Cork City striking partner, John O’Flynn, he was inducted into the club’s hall of fame.

“It’s amazing to be inducted into the hall of fame as growing up as a kid, I grew up with the GAA mentality,” said O’Callaghan.

Picture: Brian Lougheed
Picture: Brian Lougheed

“As a kid, I always wanted to be a sports star in Cork and although I probably did look back and think I was, now getting tonight’s hall of fame award, it probably caps it all for me. I am delighted to receive the award.”

Hall of Fame recipients John O'Flynn and George O'Callaghan. Picture: Larry Cummins.
Hall of Fame recipients John O'Flynn and George O'Callaghan. Picture: Larry Cummins.

O’Callaghan went on trial with English side Port Vale at the age of 15, and was signed up almost immediately. After two years, he was offered a professional contract.

After being named the club’s young player of the year, O’Callaghan was on the point of breaking into the first team in the 1998 season, until manager John Rudge was sacked. New boss Brian Horton took over and O’Callaghan was put back into the youth squad.

O’Callaghan made 41 appearances for the club before joining his home town club Cork City in 2002. He spent five years at the club, making 150 league appearances.

This was followed by a return to English football with Ipswich before a brief return to Cork in 2008. That summer, he signed with another English club Tranmere Rovers before brief spells with City rivals Dundalk and English side Yeovil Town in 2009.

He then returned to Ireland again for short stays at Waterford and Cork City and a brief spell with Cambridge before deciding to emigrate to Brunei where he played for DPMM FC.

He joined Dover Athletic for a brief stay in September 2012 and then he began his management career with Malaysian side Sabah in 2014.

George playing with Carrigaline United. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
George playing with Carrigaline United. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The experience he gained over the years will be something that he could maybe share with new Cork City bosses and former team mates of his, Neal Fenn and Joe Gamble.

“It’s fair to say I have gained a lot of experience over the years both on and off the pitch in terms of how the world of football is run,” said O’Callaghan.

“I would love one day to sit down with Fenn and the committee and Cork City, and if there is any way I can help to get the club back to being successful, then I would do it in a heartbeat. I would love to be back involved with the club in some capacity, however it’s not in my immediate thoughts but I’m there if they need my help without a doubt.

“City are going through a tough time but I think if they do the process Fenn wants them to do then they will be back up there competing at the top because Fenn and Joe [Gamble] won’t let anything go without getting Cork City back to being successful again. 

"With regards to Cork City, Fenn has to bring through the youth because of the financial situation at the club. If you look at the likes of me and John O’Flynn getting inducted into the hall of fame, I remember when we came back from England, Liam Murphy didn’t know who we were, so in football it’s better to be a lucky manager rather than a good manager at times.

“Fenn is a good manager, but he needs that bit of luck, and he needs something to click for him — and once that happens, coupled with the way he likes to play football, then it could be a really exciting time at the club.”

George O'Callaghan goes past Monaghan United's Barry Clancy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
George O'Callaghan goes past Monaghan United's Barry Clancy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The 40-year-old is is delighted to be starting a new venture in Ballincollig. The gym is scheduled to open in early March.

“I was involved with a few clubs in England up to recently but now my focus is on a new gym which will be open shortly in Ballincollig. It’s called Anytime Fitness.

“We are hoping to be open by March. It’s a great business to be in because I will be helping people to get fit and healthier.

“It’s exciting times because I get the chance to work in a state-of-the-art gym and it’s a bonus with it being in Cork. It’s great to be back.”

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