CHARLIE Fleming feels that he wasn’t given the opportunity at Cork City to become a regular starter.
Fleming, who recently signed for Treaty United, knew towards the tail end of last season that his future lay away from City, having failed to make any of manager Colin Healy’s match-day squads.
“Come the end of the year, Healers became the gaffer,” Fleming says. “He was in charge four or five weeks and I don’t think I made one squad when he was manager, so I kind of had an idea of how the discussion between me and him would go at the end of the season.”
“I was told that the budget would be reduced and that the club were going to stay full-time, so I took that as he wasn’t too pushed to have me at the club.
“I think it was mutual, the way I departed the club because I didn’t want to be somewhere where I felt I wasn’t 100% wanted,” Fleming says.
If I’d stayed with the club, I didn’t want to be a burden by them not wanting me to be there, so it was best that I moved on.
“When I joined City, I was really excited,” Fleming says. “Neale Fenn brought me to the club and gave me the opportunity to play for City, but I don’t think I was ever given a proper chance to really settle into the team.
“I remember, I just started playing before the first lockdown and when we came back, I tore my ACL and when I got over that, I played two competitive games for the club and didn’t make the squad for the rest of the year, so it was a crazy season."
“I worked so hard to overcome my injury because I believed I could play and make a contribution to the team and then played two games: Derry away — I remember, we travelled up on the day, which is tough, but we actually played well that day — and then played Shamrock Rovers away, and I was taken off at half-time and didn’t play again.
“It’s tough, because you need to play four or five games on the spin to really find your feet and get into a rhythm, especially coming back from injury, and I would have loved to be given some more game time,” Fleming says.
“I didn’t make the squad again between then and the end of the season and I was wondering, ‘What have I done wrong?’ I remember, we played Shelbourne the week after Rovers. I didn’t make the squad, but in training on Monday after the Shels game, I was told I’d be starting in the game on Friday.
“I did well in training the rest of the week. I didn’t think I’d done anything wrong, and then, come the Friday, I was left out of the squad. Things like that just confused me.
“I did enjoy my brief time working with Healers as manager. I loved going in training every day — the sessions were good — and I would have loved to have had a chance to play a game under him, but these things happen in football and it feels like a missed opportunity for me.”
Ahead of the new season, Fleming believes that the squad Treaty manager, Tommy Barrett, has assembled in such a short time will hold its own in the First Division and sees City as favourites to win the league.
“Tommy had about a week to get the squad together and you can see, already, he has brought in a lot of quality to the team,” Fleming says.
“He really sold the club to me and it will be great when supporters are allowed into games to get the people from Limerick out to support us.
“Tommy is exactly the type of manager I needed to work under. He’s already lifted my confidence and I know I’ll enjoy playing for him.
“It’s going to be one of the most competitive First Divisions for some time,” Fleming says. “Usually, there is one club everyone will agree on that should win the league, but that isn’t the case this season.
“You have Galway and Shels, who have both spent a lot of money, but I think City are best suited to win the league, with the players they have at the club, and I think Healers is the perfect manager to get the team promoted.”