Experienced Bennett says it's far too early to start think the league is Cork City's to lose

Experienced Bennett says it's far too early to start think the league is Cork City's to lose
Cork City's Alan Bennett celebrates after the win over Bohemians. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Noel Spillane

Soccer

ALAN BENNETT has designs on a contract extension to prolong his Cork City career into the 2018 league campaign.

The former Reading, Wimbledon and Cheltenham Town skipper has no intention of calling it a day at the end of this season when he hopes to add a league championship medal to the FAI Cup winners’ medal he won at the Aviva Stadium last November.

“I did a podcast the other day and I was asked about playing on next season and it’s a strong possibility. I know Mark McNulty wants to play on into his 40’s, but he’s older than me, and it’s a bit different for a goalkeeper. I haven’t given it much thought but I would like to play on next season but that’s up to the manager John Caulfield and he will make the decision.

“I’d like to win a contract extension okay and having won that elusive FAI Cup medal last year, the incentive is to press on and get my hands on a league winners’ medal next. It’s just too good a group of footballers to step away from and I want to give it another 12 months. I can’t see myself retiring because it’s all going so well. We are flying at the moment and the lads are at a peak and I am just trying to stay up with them,” said Bennett when he met the media at Bishopstown.

Bennett also took the opportunity to paid tribute to retired international team-mate Colin Healy saying: “It was a pleasure to have played with him. The stuff he did in the background and off-the-pitch for this club and its players was superb.

"Players in the future will benefit from what he did here over the years and he always had a word of advice and encouragement for the younger lads. Colin (Healy) stood up for players’ rights at this football club and that is a testament to the man because he knew it wasn’t for him, it wasn’t for his future, but for the younger generation of players coming through at the club.

“That selfless act sums the guy up in my mind and that’s the biggest compliment I can give him. I hope we see him back here in a coaching role some day. All the players here want to thank Colin Healy for what he’s done for us,” he added.

Reflecting on the season so far Bennett said the defence pride themselves on each and every clean sheet they achieve these days.

“Yes we do, we pride ourselves on all the shut-outs we keep and its only four goals against us in the league as we head to play St Pat’s tomorrow night.

"Obviously the forwards and the goal-scorers, and we have a good spread of them, get the headlines and so on but defending is a collective responsibility and we do pride ourselves in every clean sheet we achieve home or away, it doesn’t really matter. It’s a shared thing for ‘Nults’ and us but it’s brilliant watching our front three or five at times on the attack and hitting the target.

“We use a rotation system but I am happy with it. The manager has got to do it because we’d hope to go a long way in all three major competitions here at home and in the Europa League come the summer.

“It’s important that all the lads get game time and you could see up in Limerick how it pans out. It’s all about the group and it’s vital that everyone contributes when they get on the field. They need to step up when the time comes and that’s the sign of a united squad and a healthy situation,” he added.

“We’d hope to be attacking on several fronts and we’re already into the quarter-finals of the EA Sports Cup.

"The league is the top priority but we’d like to hold on to the FAI Cup and it’s a bit soon to be thinking that the league is Cork City’s to lose. We have a healthy nine-point cushion but we have European football on the horizon and we will probably run into some fixture congestion when we get to play those matches. It’s a long marathon of a season and we are hardly a third of the way through so we have a lot of work to do if we are to lift any trophy,” added ‘Benno’ who is currently doing his Elite UEFA coaching badge.

Meanwhile, City will play the holders, St Patrick’s Athletic in the EA Sports Cup quarter-finals at Turner’s Cross next month.

Liam Buckley’s side are chasing a three in a row but come up against the league leaders and the same two clubs clash at Richmond Park in the league tomorrow night. SSE Airtricity League champions Dundalk welcome First Division leaders, Waterford to Oriel Park and First Division side Longford Town head to Tallaght to face Shamrock Rovers. Sligo Rovers will welcome Galway United to the Showgrounds in a north-west derby clash. 

The full draw is: Dundalk v Waterford, Oriel Park Sligo Rovers v Galway United, Showgrounds Shamrock Rovers v Longford Town, Tallaght Stadium Cork City v St. Patrick's Athletic, Turner’s Cross.

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