AFTER a decade of playing League of Ireland football, goalkeeper Paul Hunt decided to make the move to Munster Senior League where he is now enjoying his time with Leeside.
The goalkeeper, originally from Longford, has enjoyed a great career at League of Ireland level and here he tells us about his experience and his aim to continue playing at a great standard.
“I started with St Pat’s when I was 19 where I enjoyed training and travelling with the first team also,” said Hunt.
“I then moved on to Longford who were in the first division at the time.
“This was my first league of Ireland season that I played in games at that level. I stayed there for five years in which I won the first division title in 2014 and played in the Premier Division with them in 2015.
“From there I moved on to Cobh and spent the past few seasons there.
“Along with that first division title I was lucky to have medals from the setanta cup, EA Sports Cup, Leinster senior cup, Munster senior cup and they are medals that I can look back on and show my kids and be very proud of.
“I always made sure with every club I was with I developed as a player and a person and gained as much experience as I could. I have gained a lot of experience from so many different people throughout my career.
“The managers I played under Pete Mahon, Tony Cousins, Stephen Henderson and Stuart Ashton. They were all good and helped my career in some way or the other.
“I was also lucky enough to play with some great players from schoolboy football to all the league of Ireland teams.
“The likes of Matt Doherty, Stephen Rice, Davy Sullivan, Dave Hurley and more that I could go on all night about. I’ve been lucky to have played with a lot of great players.
“My decision to leave Cobh was a personal one, I knew it was time for me to step away from the club but it was not an easy decision to make as I loved my time there but knew it was the best decision for me to leave.
“Unfortunately, there was a lot of negative stuff said in the media that wasn’t true, but I can’t control that, but I know I can hold my head up high as I always acted in a professional manner while I was there.
“I gave everything for the club while I was there and I can honestly say I have no regrets on the decision I made and it’s one I believe most people who were in my situation would have made.”
Deciding to join MSL side Leeside came as a surprise to a lot of people but for Hunt, he believes it was a good move, as he is enjoying the football and atmosphere at the Little Island club.
“The reason I joined Leeside was after a conversation with the manager Micheal Deasy.
“He rang me and asked me to come down training and try it, so I did and really enjoyed it to be honest.
“The first training session was enjoyable and it was such a great atmosphere that I knew this was what I needed at the time.
“I obviously only got to play one game before lockdown so it’s hard to say how things will go but one game, one win and one clean sheet so it’s a good start anyhow.”
For the 30-year-old father of one, operating at League of Ireland level in the future isn’t something he has ruled out but until then he’s main focus is to do well with Leeside.
“Obviously, if the right move came along I would go back playing at that level for sure. But for now, my focus is with Leeside and I am hoping that the season will resume shortly and we can get back playing.
“It’s difficult to set aims at the minute because we don’t know what’s happening with the leagues, and we don’t know when they’re going back so at the minute it’s just trying to keep ourselves as sharp as we can for when we do finally go back.
“Covid has been a difficult time for most people but to be honest it has been good for me as I’m lucky to be able to continue working and keep up a routine of some sort and with a bit of running and cycling being able to stay fit.
“With most pitches closed and grounds it’s been hard to do any sort of keeper training so I’ve tried to use this time to improve other parts of my game such as strength, speed of my feet, mobility and just fitness.
“It’s been a difficult year for most people and I do think sport is such a saviour for many. I’m looking forward to the New year where we can hopefully get back playing sooner rather than later.”