The Dubs beware: Cahalane is joining forces with Harry Redknapp

The Dubs beware: Cahalane is joining forces with Harry Redknapp
Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

FORMER Cork and Castlehaven star defender Niall Cahalane will link up with former Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham and Portsmouth soccer manager Harry Redknapp, who is scheduled to coach the Castlehaven senior football team as part of a mini-series for The Toughest Rivalry which will be broadcast in a weekly series this summer.

A Castlehaven senior football team coached by Redknapp will renew acquaintances against Dublin outfit Erin's Isle who will be managed by former Italy soccer star Gianluca Vialli. 

The two sides are due to meet in Moneyvolihane, Castlehaven on Sunday, August 12. 

Niall who was a talismatic and stalwart player for both his beloved club and county is looking forward to helping the well-known soccer figure immerse himself with the rules of GAA in the coming months. 

"It will be a great occasion and it was a great honour to be asked to help assist Harry Redknapp. 

"To be his understudy will be a great experience. It promises to be a great day," revealed the decorated former player.

Diarmuid O'Sullivan with Niall Cahalane last summer. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Diarmuid O'Sullivan with Niall Cahalane last summer. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Niall confesses to not following soccer with any great interest or knowing much about Redknapp's great success achieved as both a player and well known Premier League soccer manager. 

Niall is however looking forward to working alongside the managerial guru. 

"I am not a huge soccer fan, but everyone knows about Harry Redknapp. He is a very high profile and well-known manager who has had great experience with a number of teams in the Premier League. 

"I only met him for the first time recently, but he came across very well. 

"He was very accommodating with people of all ages. He is a very nice man, who made time for all during his visit. He carried himself very well and he displayed great people skills. 

"He is an exceptionally good conversationalist who is keen to enjoy his GAA experience."

Part of Niall's remit is to bring Harry up to speed with all things GAA related in a very short period of time. 

Niall will convey his knowledge and love for the game in an attempt to help Harry inspire his adopted Castlehaven side to victory against Erin's Isle in the exhibition match. 

"Harry revealed to me that he has never seen a GAA game, either through the medium of TV or even attended a game. 

"We tried to get as much information to him during his visit to the area last week. 

"He attended a few training sessions, a challenge game and he seemed to pick up a lot of information. 

"The fact that he has managed in a competitive environment and has been involved in team sports all his life will stand to him as he will understand all about winning and putting in a performance. 

"Management is management at the end of the day, he has a lot of experience, he knows how to handle players and he will command a lot of respect."

The visit of Harry Redknapp to West Cork brought a great sense of joy and excitement to the wider Castlehaven community. Underage players displayed their skills in front of the impressed manager, while Niall revealed the players were thrilled to learn about his novel coaching role with them going forward. 

"Harry has seen and done it all and travelled the world, but I am positive he will enjoy his time in West Cork. It will be a great experience for him. The players were delighted. 

"They were very keen to impress. His stature, CV and years of managerial experience at the top level ensured the lads were mad to meet him. 

"The way he carried himself and addressed people was very impressive. He is a very charismatic guy who is great at bringing the best out of players."

Niall revealed that the former top-flight soccer manager was very impressed with the commitment of the players and the fact they are all amateur players who balance their work and sporting commitments in their pursuit of excellence for their club. 

"He was blown away by the commitment of the players. He was particularly impressed by their desire to attend training sessions and games up to three nights a week for long periods of the year, despite the remote location of Castlehaven and the long distances players have to come to play for their home club. 

"He struggled to get his head around that aspect of the game. He was also very impressed with the skill level of the players. He was very taken by their close control and fitness levels."

The meeting of Castlehaven and Erin's Isle is a re-match of their All-Ireland club semi-final clash in 1998, which Erin's Isle dramatically won by a point. 

The Dublin club trailed by five points with only two minutes left but staged a grandstand recovery to seal victory. Erin's Isle benefited from a controversial decision which led to the winning goal. 

Niall still reflects back on that painful defeat with great anguish. 

"There are parts of that game I would love to forget. I only saw the goal incident for the first time in years recently. 

"Harry Redknapp himself is convinced the ball never crossed the line for the winning goal. Maybe if he was managing Erin's Isle, he might be telling them a different story. 

"The match will attract a large crowd, will be a bit of fun and it will be a great occasion for all."

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