JASON Whooley was recently appointed as the Ilen Rovers senior football manager for the forthcoming season.
The former player who enjoyed a decorated career with his beloved Ilen Rovers is thrilled with the opportunity.
“It is a great honour. It is something I have always had in my mind. I am not doing as much travelling with my job due to Covid-19 which gives me a better opportunity.
"In the last few years, I was involved in the administration side of the club and doing a bit of underage coaching. The circumstances have lined themselves up for me. We will have a cut off it now,” he said.
The new manager is a big advocate of the defined championship format which proved so successful last season. He said it perfectly suits the requirements of both the players and the coaches.
“It makes a lot of sense. There is a clear structure which is what we are all looking for. Players don’t want the season dragging on.
"The format last season was a big success. We must remember these lads are amateur players and it has gone very competitive.
"The structure allows for players to have a bit of downtime. The season dragging on doesn’t suit anybody. Having this defined season allows lads to chill out and have a normal life which is important.”
Whooley has formed a very impressive backroom team which includes the Duggan brothers Diarmuid and Brendan. The fourth member of the coaching team is another former player Flor O’Driscoll.
“They all have huge experience and knowledge. I am very pleased with the coaching team. Hopefully, the players will be encouraged by the set-up as I think we have good talent.
"Our role won’t be too fancy. It will be to get as much out of them as possible.
"If we get the environment right that will be a great first step. If results follow we will be delighted.”
With the start of the season delayed to the current public health guidelines, the Ilen Rovers senior footballers are currently doing individual programmes as they strive to hit the ground running.
“The players are doing their own individual programmes. As a management team, we are on Zoom calls and having chats about the season ahead.
"We are doing our best given the current circumstances. You can’t beat being out on the pitch and the inter-personal chemistry with the players.
"You need to be working with them on a pitch to make an impact. We are looking forward to getting going with them in the coming months.”
The Ilen Rovers senior footballers were drawn in a very tough championship group last season which also featured Castlehaven, Carbery Rangers and Newcestown. Ilen ultimately had to defeat Bishopstown to preserve their senior status. Whooley is keen to build on that display going forward.
“That was a great performance. They showed great fight. They were very well prepared. When they are well prepared, you would like to think they are a match for anybody.
"It showed that we have some very good forwards which is always encouraging. I always feel that we have potential.
"We have had a regular sprinkling of Cork players in various age groups in recent years. We have probably underachieved.
"We have been in a few relegation battles. Hopefully we can address that.
"We will be seeking to bring a bit of extra maturity and consistency to our performances. If we achieve that, we can look forward with confidence.”
A very talented footballer with Ilen Rovers in his pomp, he was a key player in helping Ilen Rovers achieve senior football status in 2004. He also featured prominently for the Carbery senior footballers over many years.
“There is no substitute for playing, but life moves on. I have fantastic memories from my career. It was a great era for the club. Hopefully, we will make many more special memories moving forward.
"Looking back now, we lost a lot of big games before we started winning so we are very conscious sometimes it is just the rub of the green or a decision going your way. All it takes is a bit of momentum and taking off from there.
"We want them to enjoy themselves, get the culture right and take it from there.”
Ilen Rovers are fortunate to possess a hard-working committee who are driving them on behind the scenes, while a number of former players are working away in coaching capacities both at underage and adult level.
“There is some great leadership being shown on an executive level. Dominic Casey is a great chairman. He is bringing a very professional structure to the club.
"Anthony Evans is the epitome of our club. He is a great club man. There is great work going on at all levels. There is a great unity and spirit within the club.”