MARTIN O’Brien is looking forward to his new coaching role with the Cork minor footballers this season.
The Clonakilty club man who has previously worked in a coaching capacity with Rebel Óg and the Cork camogie team can’t wait for the season to commence.
“I was delighted to be asked to get involved. I can’t wait to get started. As a coach, you want to be out on the pitch working with the players.
"We have been very proactive already. We are doing Zoom calls at the moment between the coaches. We have also held Zoom calls with the players on expectations, technical and skills proficiency."
Ballincollig club man Michael O’Brien will manage this year’s Cork minor footballers. He is joined by a very strong backroom team which consists of Donncha O’Connor, Daniel Cronin and Gary Sheehan.
He is part of a formidable coaching team. He is looking forward to working with his fellow coaches.
“I have previously worked with Daniel Cronin with the Rebel Óg set-up. I know Michael as I have played against him. We were also in UCC at the same time.
"Donncha is a great role model. When Donncha speaks to the players on the Zoom calls, it is very inspiring. He has been there and achieved so much.
"He is a direct link to the last time Cork won a senior All-Ireland title. His personality lends to coaching.
"He is a very calm and measured guy. It is a very strong coaching team. I see our role as facilitators to the players.
"We are also learners. I am also looking forward to learning off all my coaching colleagues. The day you think you know all the answers will be the day you will be found out.”
O'Brien, enjoyed a very successful club career with his native Mallow, Clonakilty and Newcestown, but admits he didn’t consider a coaching career until in the later years of his playing career.
“I suppose growing up I was very much a flight or fight type of guy which doesn’t always lend itself to a calm presence on the sideline. I knew as my career was winding down, I had to transition to something.
"Coaching ensured I stayed in contact with players. I was still getting the weekly and daily interactions with players and I loved it.
"I was part of Eugene Desmond’s backroom team with Newcestown when we won the Premier Intermediate Hurling county title. I then went on an amazing coaching journey with Kevin Murray in the Cork camogie set up.
"I went in with one idea and came out with so many different ways of looking at games. He challenged me in so many different ways.
"I spent three years working with him and learned so much.
He will combine his role with the Cork minors with managing the Mitchelstown intermediate footballers this season.
When the club season resumes, the first competitive game this talented Mitchelstown team will play is a county final tie against Rockchapel.
“The seasons being split will help. I am always learning. I am very excited about the potential of Mitchelstown. I have always felt they were on the cusp of great things.
"They have a very talented squad. The big incentive for me was the players want to improve and win. A big factor in taking this job was the fact that it is far from home.
"If I make mistakes there, I will learn from them whereas if I was working near home and making mistakes, I would have everybody pointing them out. The county final will be a great test of where we are.
"It will show if we are serious about progressing. Rockchapel are a very strong team.
"They will pose a serious challenge. Instead of a first-round game, our first competitive game this season will be last year’s county final.”
O'Brien admits to still missing the competitive buzz of playing.
"I always felt you had to put in the hard work and you got your reward on the day. I grew up idolising the late Tyrone player Cormac McAnallen.
"He always said that the best thing about playing was the first five minutes back in the dressing room after your team have won. I can totally relate to that.
"You can’t put a value on that. It doesn’t matter what grade it is. Winning any championship game is a great feeling.
"Sharing it with your team-mates having worked so hard together as a group over a sustained period of time is a great feeling.
"Earning a win together is just a great feeling. Sport for me isn’t just about the physical wellness. It provides massive adrenaline highs in your life.”
The Cork minor footballers were defeated by Kerry after extra-time in last year’s championship. He is excited about the potential of this year’s squad.
“The structures behind the scenes are very strong. The players are eager to learn. They have a great desire to improve and achieve.”