CORK City goalkeeper Mark McNulty was delighted to extend his stay on Leeside despite interest from another club.
McNulty will once again take up the role as player-coach and is aware of how challenging a season ahead it is for the club and is ready to play his part. It renews his relationships with manager Colin Healy, the duo playing together with Ballincollig since they were young.
"I’m thrilled to get my future sorted because there was a bit of uncertainty there for a bit. I suppose when there was no manager in place it was difficult because I couldn’t really talk to anyone about my situation at the club because ultimately, it’s down to the manager to sign players.
"I was approached by another club but I was always waiting to see how things played out with City. Once Healers (Colin Healy) was appointed, I was speaking to him within days and we reached an agreement that I would resume my role as a player-coach.
“I’ll probably be seen as a coach first and a player second but I had that approach as well going into last season and I ended up playing a lot more games than I thought I would so I know I need to be ready if called upon."
Having recently turned 40, McNulty could be forgiven for wanted to hang up his gloves. However, the City goalkeeper is determined to play on as long as possible but is looking towards the future and expanding his coaching career.
“I want to keep playing as long as I can. I still feel fit enough to play my part and as long as I feel like that I will continue playing. However, I know I will have to hang up the gloves someday and I’m really enjoying the coaching side of the game.
"I enjoyed doing that and it will definitely be time well spent because I have a few more sessions I can introduce to the keepers this season.
“I want to take on a bit more coaching this season apart from City. Keepers are view completed differently to how they once were and teams are realising how important a position it is on the pitch. It used to be a case that kids would just be put in goal because they probably weren’t good enough to be an outfielder but now kids want to be a keeper rather than be forced to play there."
David De Gea, Ederson and Alisson have changed the game.
"Keepers have to be good at everything now, especially being able to be comfortable with the ball at their feet. I think there is more of a demand for keeper coaching now and I’m hoping that once it is safe to do so, I’d like to provide coaching camps at weekends. That wouldn’t be just limited to kids, I would be offering coaching to adults as well.”
Following an off-season of speculation and uncertainty, McNulty admits that he is disappointed that the takeover of the club by Grovemore Ltd was not complete but believes that the club must move on and focus on the present.
“I was convinced that the takeover would happen which would have been great for the club and also the league having Grovemore invest. I was like everyone else, I guess. One moment I was reading on social media that the takeover was going through and the next it was off.
“It would have given Healers a healthier budget to compete but it wasn’t to be and we have to move on. In fairness to Foras, they voted in favour of selling the club, which wouldn’t have been an easy thing for them to do but unfortunately, the takeover was never complete.
"It still seems that Grovemore are still interested in purchasing the club in the future which will be great, but for now we just have to focus on the present and try and get promoted from the First Division which won’t be easy. I must say though that Grovemore have shown great commitment to the club. A lot of people have questioned their motivate but so far, they have shown nothing but a willingness to do anything that they can to help the club and they deserve a lot of credit."
It makes promotion a tougher task for City.
“Galway and Shelbourne have recruited very well and will have big budgets, so they will be expected to go up. Bray Wanderers also have a very good team and Cobh Ramblers have resigned most of their squad back from last season so it’s going to be a very competitive league.
"We have started to sign players as well and things are looking a lot better than they did a few weeks ago.”
The one uncertainty for the club is where they will be playing their home games. Turner's Cross has been the club’s home for several seasons but it remains to be seen whether City will opt to remain to work with Munster Football Association.
“I have so much great memories playing in Turner's Cross and I’m sure fans are very fond of the ground as well but if playing somewhere else benefits the club then everyone involved with the club needs to get on board.”