RORY DOYLE has taken a route he hopes will help him achieve his dream of playing professional football.
The 20-year-old Douglas man is to leave for the US next month and is excited.
“I am really looking forward to getting over there and being part of such a professional set-up,” says Doyle.
The talented midfielder began his football career with local side College Corinthians, before progressing through the ranks at Cork City, and here he tells us about his journey.
“I began playing football with College Corinthians at the age of six and stayed with them until 16 years of age,” Doyle says.
“Mick Russell, Donal O’Donovan, and manager Paul Kelleher were three great guys who taught me a lot about the game.
“Apart from management, we had a great group of lads and players and, while at the club, I was lucky enough to be part of a squad that won four leagues and two local cups.
“Players and coaches alike, I think we all loved it. From that team, actually, was myself and Beineon O’Brien Whitmarsh, who ended up signing first-team contracts at City; Conor Bowdren and Alan Kelleher, who signed and played U17 to U19; while Colin O’Mahony, who also played underage with City, took up a scholarship to the University of California.
We also had Mark Cronin, Conor Russell, and Eoin Carey, who are winning All-Irelands with Cork GAA, so quite a successful group.”
Having stood out at underage level, Doyle gained international recognition and he believes the Emerging Talent Programme played its part in his progression as a player.
“It was obviously a huge advantage for me, being part of such a great club team, and through this, it gave me an opportunity to play with representative sides,” Doyle says.
“I played with the schoolboys’ league teams right through the underage levels, winning a couple of Munsters and All-Ireland medals and going to the Kennedy Cup as well.
“The Emerging Talent Programme was also a great set-up to be involved in. I think this path is what brought a lot of lads to go on to play League of Ireland.
“I mean, if you look at City’s first team, I’d say from Cork six or seven have come through that way. I won the U17s national league with City, also, so at underage level it was a pretty successful period.”
For most youngsters in Cork City’s underage academy, the aim is to break into the first team, and it was always evident that Doyle would.
That he did, but it didn’t pan out the way he hoped and hence his decision to leave the club this season.
“I only had three or four appearances with City. The first was a start in the RSC, against Waterford, under John Caulfield. I loved it,” Doyle says.
“However, it just didn’t happen for me after that. I needed to be playing matches week in week out, not just training every day, and just felt it wasn’t going to happen, so I decided to leave Cork City at the beginning of this season, as I wasn’t enjoying it anymore, to be honest.
“It was a tough year at the club, as everyone knows, with relegation, and not being able to have an input on the pitch hurt and frustrated me.
“I had a bad injury on my ankle in literally the first session back after the first lockdown, as well, which set me back.
“I think what I experienced in the year or two there will stand to me and certainly taught me a lot about stuff outside the pitch.
“I am gutted to see the lads struggle at the moment. After coming through the academy at City with a lot of the lads, I know there’s a good group of players there and a lot of work goes on behind the scenes. Obviously, things are not going well, but I believe it will come good.
“When deciding what I wanted to do this season, I was juggling a lot of options; not a bad situation to be in, but I needed to get it right.
In the end, I signed for UCC for a couple of months and decided to take a scholarship offer from a coach who was in contact with me for a while, to a university in Texas.
“I just completed my first year in Arts with UCC. I tried BIS the year before, but with training full time the course was too difficult for me.
“Getting a college degree is important when playing League of Ireland and, to be fair, I think the link between Cork City and UCC helps players in Cork a lot.
“I enjoyed my time with UCC this summer, although the results were not good enough in the Keane Cup. I had not played a game since August of the previous year.
“Next month, I plan on flying over to a D2 university, called Midwestern State, in Texas, and playing and training full time with them, along with continuing my degree in PE.
“The way it worked out is brilliant and I am looking forward to it. The set-up over there looks unbelievable. I know a few fellas playing over there and they said the standard is quite high.
“They take care of accommodation, etc, over there, so I am living with two other Irish lads in a housing complex that looks unbelievable, to be fair, an outdoor pool and the whole lot.
“If the opportunity after university comes up to go pro, I would love it, but, for the moment, my focus is on getting to the States and giving it a good go,” Doyle says.