KATE O’Donovan speaks from experience when she describes how positive an impact the Cork City Women’s Academy can have on a young player.
When the underage set-up was launched in 2015, O’Donovan didn’t need any convincing to join in with their training sessions and she would later become the first player to progress into the senior side.
“I was the very first player to sign up,” she tells.
“I was training with the senior squad at the time and Charlie Lynch mentioned it to me to sign the form with them. It was an extra training session so I was very enthusiastic to do that then.
“I’m very proud that I was the first to go and do it, it’s something that I am known for now.
“The quality has gone up a lot since then, you look at the likes of Éabha (O’Mahony) and Zara (Foley) playing now and you are like ‘wow, that’s a big upgrade.’ I wouldn’t just recommend it because it’s a great pathway to the U17s, 19s and then the seniors but the friends you’ll make as well.”
From being one of 20 or so involved at the time, Kate has watched on as the academy has grown from strength to strength with almost 90 youngsters registering last year, culminating in the U17s winning the league title.
The club hopes to continue growing in 2021 and they are currently looking for players aged 10 to 16 to register their interest by filling out a form which can be found on their official (@CorkCityFCWomen) Twitter page.
Kate, who then helped City lift the FAI Cup in 2017, leaves it to her sister Áine to run that side of things, allowing the 22-year-old to instead concentrate on playing more minutes in the Women’s National League.
The midfielder’s only game-time so far this season has come from the bench late in proceedings but she is often seen doing extra work on the pitch long after the full-time whistle as she looks to stake her claim for more action.
“I have always done that if I haven’t played really, I will always do that work,” she added.
“One of my things is that I am very fit and I want to keep that up. When we are going into team meetings I want to be like ‘ Well, I’m still fit, I’m still training well, I’m ticking all the boxes and staying sharp.’
“You don’t know when your chance is going so I have to be ready, I do the extras so I can stay ready and stay sharp. Whenever I am called upon I will be ready and there will be no excuses.
"If I have 10 minutes, I’m going to go flat out for these 10 minutes to make sure I can help the team whether we are trying to see out a result or chase a goal, I’m going to use my energy in a positive way and that’s all I can do.
“I don’t think you could possibly be there if you weren’t enjoying it and for me, I love going training. I had to cut down to two training nights at the moment because of my exams and I hate it. I want to be there all three, four, or five nights training if possible.
“The game-time... I would like more but it is not something I’m going to complain about, it’s something I’m going to keep working hard to earn as the season goes on.”
O’Donovan is in the final few weeks of her course at the Munster Technological University where she is studying Pharmaceutical Biotechnology.
Her plan afterwards is to stay and work in Cork while also doing all she can to help City improve following a difficult start to the new season.
“A lot of the games we have performed really well for good periods of the games and then we have lost a bit of concentration or made a mistake and the teams have punished us,” she admitted.
“We have been a bit unlucky but we actually have improved on a lot of things from last year and it’s a little bit disappointing that people can’t see that because of our results.
“But we have to keep working hard to make sure that we get more points on the board to push us up the table.
“We have looked back at the videos at things we can improve on. We’re not going to wait for it to just happen, we are going to keep working hard to keep improving.”