IN the same way that players come up the ranks, so it is that new Cork City U19 manager Dan Murray has progressed through the age-grades.
Following the appointment of Liam Kearney as head of the club’s academy recently, City have set about confirming the managers of the various underage sides. Murray, who captained City to the 2005 league title, 2007 FAI Cup and 2008 Setanta Cup, has taken the U19 reins, with Steven Beattie as coach and Paul Howard in charge of strength and conditioning; David Moore is U17 manager, Steve Bermingham guides the U15s and Greg Yelverton will lead the U14s.
Last year, Murray was with the City U17s, whose season was curtailed due to Covid-19, and prior to that he and Billy Woods had two years with the U15 team. It means a strong level of familiarity with many of those with whom he will engage this year.
“The first-year U19s, who were U17 last year, I’ll have had them U15, U17 and U19,” Murray says.
“I’d like to think that I have a good idea of what they’re like now anyway!
“When Liam asked me to do it, I was keen as I enjoyed working with the U17s last year. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy it with the U15s, but I think I can give more to the older players.
“What I feel my job as U19 manager now is helping to bridge the gap between U19 and senior, which is obviously massive. I have to try to shorten that down to that, if Colin needs the players, they’re as ready as they can be.
“I’m trying to produce players that he might look to use in the first team.”
And what is the biggest part of the leap required for a player seeking to establish himself in the senior set-up?
“I think it’s a bit of everything, really,” Murray says.
“That’s something I’ve really noticed coming up through the age-groups – the quicker you make decisions, the better the players are and the quicker they adapt to playing at a higher level.
“Being able to make quick decisions under pressure leads to more successful players.”
Murray, who also captained Shamrock Rovers to the League of Ireland in between his two spells with City, will obviously be looking to guide the U19s to success, but of course there is a dual objective in that progressing the players is also a key priority.
To that end, the tactics of Colin Healy’s senior team will be replicated, to an extent.
“To give the lads the best possible chance of going from the U19s to the first team, that’s what we’d look to do,” he says.
“Obviously, every game’s going to be different in that you’ll have different bodies and you’ll be playing against different formations, but the basics of the formation the first team will be playing and the principles they use will be similar to how we operate.
“Colin knows the players already as well as anyone so he’ll have a good idea of what’s coming through and what he needs from each one.”
Given that there is such a strong presence of former players, the preservation of the club’s ethos is all but assured.
“When you play for Cork City, you have to believe in what the club is all about,” Murray says.
“Me being a manager, Steven Beattie, Colin obviously and Liam Kearney now and the other underage managers, they all know what Cork City is about and where we need to be and where we’re looking to go.
“The academy has been going great the last couple of years and we have to keep pushing.
“We’re probably a little bit off some of the Dublin clubs but that’s got to be our goal, challenging them and winning things at underage.
“The biggest thing is producing players for the first team but then producing good people as well. Liam said it already, it’s about producing good kids that, if they’re not going to be footballers, they’ve still got something out of Cork City’s academy when they do go on to whatever else they do.”