RELYING on the work done by schoolboy clubs and the schoolboy league has always been needed, however none more so than this season as Cork City are set to begin with squads without been able to hold trials.
Stephen Bermingham, U15 Cork City manager, highlights the importance of the great work been done at schoolboy clubs as he tries to assemble a squad without being able to hold a trial.
“We have a lot of our U15 squad chosen and these are lads that have played at U13 level with the club and also a few who are still underage from Dave Moore’s U15 squad last season,” said Birmingham.
“However it was a very difficult situation for us as management as with government guidelines, we were unable to hold any trial.
“This is why our squad has yet to be finalised as we obviously want to give some players an opportunity where we can see more of them on the pitch and hopefully we will have time to do so before the season begins.
We are so lucky and grateful for the work been done in schoolboy clubs because the standard of players coming to us at Cork City has been excellent and that is huge credit to the local clubs.
“It is important we acknowledge this as this has been the case for a very long time and clubs at League of Ireland level would not be able to compete at such a high level if it wasn’t for the work been done at grassroots level.
“Since assembling the majority of our squad, everyone has been working really hard with online sessions in preparation for the season ahead, however everyone is also very eager to get back onto the pitch.
“Life has been tough for everyone and not just in sport, but for those involved in sport, we do miss it very much.
“For me, personally, I would normally have spent four or five nights a week involved in football and it was hard to adjust going from that to nothing.
“So it will be great to get back on the pitch and see activity in our communities once again.”
Prior to taking up the role of U15 manager, Birmingham was in charge of the Cork Schoolboys Kennedy Cup squad. Another huge disappointment for Bermingham was to see this being cancelled.
“Prior to taking up the role as Cork City manager for the U15 squad, I had the Cork Schoolboys League Kennedy Cup squad. We had put a lot of work in and, due to Covid, the tournament couldn’t take place.
“This was hugely disappointing for everyone involved because as well as missing out on playing in this fantastic tournament, there was a huge amount of work put in by staff and players and it was disappointing not to see this come to fruition.
“Obviously, with the pandemic been a unique situation, people understood why it had to be cancelled, however, it still didn’t take away from the disappointment of the lads not been given the opportunity to play in the tournament.
“Thankfully there are a few of those lads who have since signed with us at City so I look forward to working with them and hopefully, soon enough, all of them will get to experience playing competitively again.”
Bermingham begins his third stint with the club having previously been involved with the U17s and the successful U19 squad who played in the UEFA Youth League. As always, his main focus is on player development.
“For all coaches involved in the boys and men’s teams at the club, our main focus is on player development.
A pathway through the club to the first team is the goal for everyone.
“We all want to give the players an experience in the player development area and that is the main goal for us as coaches really.
“I have a great backroom staff, all of whom bring a wealth of knowledge and experience. Colm Bermingham, Kevin O’Brien, Conor Cremin, Shane Healy. and Eoin Hetherington.
“We are all really looking forward to finalising our squad and working with a great bunch of lads. We hope to get a few weeks of pre-season training as preparation for the season ahead.
“Providing it’s safe to do so, hopefully we can get back on the pitch sooner rather than later.
“Although the online zoom training sessions have been great and they have kept the lads busy and hopefully fit, nothing beats meeting team-mates and training together on the pitch.
“With the education system been the priority from the government to get back, hopefully all that goes well and then sport may return soon afterwards.
“As a teacher myself, I know the importance of having some normality back for the kids. I think it’s very important to get kids back to school for social interaction and for routine.
“We need to keep kids motivated and interested and as a teacher, I cannot wait to get back to do so.
“I am looking forward to getting back to being busy and, as part of this great club, we are all looking forward to continuing our player development right across each age group with the main goal of getting this club back playing in the top tier of football again.”