Gamble didn’t pay off for Joe at Cork City: Young players struggled with demands 

'Confidence was low and it's tough, there’s no easy fix for it...'
Gamble didn’t pay off for Joe at Cork City: Young players struggled with demands 

Joe Gamble, former Cork City assistant manager, and legendary league-winning midfielder. Picture: Jim Coughlan

FORMER Cork City assistant Joe Gamble believes that he and former City manager Neale Fenn did everything they could to make the club successful but unfortunately, it just didn’t work out.

Gamble and Fenn were sacked by the club with five games remaining last season, though they still ended up dropping out of the Premier Division. 

I asked the former Republic of Ireland international if he felt they could have kept the club up had they stayed in charge?

“No. If we had 36 games maybe. Before the lockdown happened, I thought there was a bit of progression when we played Pat's away, we actually played really well,” Gamble said.

“We lost 1-0 and could have easily got a draw. There were signs there and then all of a sudden that comes down, but I think ultimately, I don’t think we would have kept them up.

We tried everything. I had a pain in my head thinking about it.

“We did the most daft things, we did this and that and we changed so much and we just couldn’t get the response from the players and look, maybe it was us.

“There’s no definite saying, ‘that was right or wrong’. I don’t think we would have done much more.

“I’ll be very honest here, after the Pat’s game when they beat us 3-0 at home and they were like Barcelona, they absolutely destroyed us.

“They took us to the cleaners in the first 45 minutes and were full value for the win and I remember coming in afterward to the changing room and I said, ‘look lads I’ll be honest with you, I hope I get the sack because I can’t watch that again like’.

“They were my exact words to the team and I’m not lying to you. I don’t think I could have done any more.

“We tried everything. The players weren’t responding maybe it was us, maybe it was me, maybe it was Neale. Colin Healy came in, he didn’t have enough games to change it around realistically, he couldn’t bring in players.

“I just felt that I had enough. When I did get sacked it didn’t bother me, I didn’t lose an ounce of sleep.

“I just didn’t think it was going to work. How many crisis meetings did we have?

“I was sick of meetings. Meeting on meeting and I was saying the same thing to the same players and wasn’t getting the response.

“Fenny had a great comment and I loved it, he said, ‘if you can’t change people, change the people’.

The problem was we couldn’t change it because we didn’t have the money to change it.

“We would come in every Monday morning and say the same thing to him and then he would go, ‘but Joe, we can’t change the people’.

“It wasn’t that I was delighted, but I just think that it ran its course.

“I tried my absolute best and I know it’s only short-term, but it just wasn’t working for whatever reason. Look maybe I’m an awful coach, an awful manager, maybe if our tactics were better but I just thought we tried everything.

“We were just working with too many inexperienced players at that time and confidence was low and it's tough, there’s no easy fix for it.”


Gamble has spent time coaching at Limerick, Waterford and City and he has questioned whether he will continue to coach in the league in the future.

“I’m not too sure about how viable I am about being involved in the league.

“My biggest worry when I got sacked with City and I kind of thought about it was, ‘do I want to be in my mid-'40s, '50s, travelling to Derry for a gig’?

“Going up to Shelbourne, going to Galway. I really took a step back and go, ‘do you know what, I’ve four kids at home, I’ve 16 years as a footballer’.

“I’ve asked them to go to England. I remember my wife was two weeks after her baby and had a C-section.

“I put her into a car with two kids, driving to Sunderland, getting a ferry. It’s a 10-hour journey, to move into Roy O’Donovan’s house when I played with Hartlepool.

“And then we had our third child and he’s two months old and I’m going to Malaysia and my wife and three kids at home. I’ve done that as a player and I’m thinking: ‘Do I really want to do that again’?”

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