AS well as captaining the Cork City senior side, this year has seen defender Alan Bennett take his first steps in management, assisting David Moore with the club’s U13 side.
Playing in the new national league, things have gone well for City, who have won four from four, and Bennett is enjoying the new role.
“It’s been brilliant so far,” he says, “they’re a really good group.
“It’s teething, the league as a whole, there has been a bit of a backlash to it regarding results, development, posting results online, which I understand. I suppose you just need a year of it to sort itself out because you want it to be competitive.
“In terms of the age-group, it’s the perfect time, the learning in the group is amazing.
"They’re at that special age, getting the behaviours in and the values, all that kind of stuff.
“They love football and it refreshes that in me. They love watching video and foam-rolling, the things that get mundane after a while if you’re doing them for 20 years. They just love it and it has been great.”
That the team have taken to the off-field activities with the same level of enthusiasm as matches has been heartening for Bennett.
“It’s all about them as athletes as well as people and as well as players,” he says.
“We try to show them all those values and all those behaviours, almost without them knowing it.
“There’s a lot to it, now that I’ve seen the other side of it.
"There’s a lot of organising, subtly putting stuff in place and hoping it’ll seep through.
"They just take any information so well, it’s a great group, spread from all over Cork, some travel two hours to train with no complaints.
“They want to be at his club and it’s amazing. Colin Healy is obviously doing an incredible job with the academy in general, people can see that there’s a pathway there, which wasn’t the case when I was young. Back then, there was just City youths and if you didn’t get into that team you might struggle to get into Cork City in general.
“It’s a great database of kids that we’re building up.”
Of course, Bennett still has his primary duties to attend to as well.
Right now, that means trying to help City snap out of the funk which has seen them lose four of their first eight league games. Next up for John Caulfield’s side is the visit of St Patrick’s Athletic tomorrow night.
“John just hit the reset button Monday morning,” Bennett says, “it’s one of his strengths, he just cut straight through it.
“We’ve been down this road before and he’s been down this road before, he fully understands how early it is in the development of this group in particular.
“There are new faces, younger faces, it just takes that time to mesh in. It’s all about the values and behaviours in the group that will start to feed through and it will click.
“I think Friday is going to be a very good game and the league is more competitive this year, we’re talking about more teams and I think that that’s interesting.”