Noel Hennessy has had a long and storied career in Cork soccer

Rockmount stalwart has dedicated his life to sport
Noel Hennessy has had a long and storied career in Cork soccer

Noel Hennessy; Manager Rockmount FC with the Junior Club of the Year Award at the MSL awards night recently held in Murphy's Brewery with John Crowley representing Beamish and Pat Lyons of the MSL, back in 2010. Picture: David Keane.

A CASUAL conversation at work nearly 30 years ago has resulted in a varied and exciting career in soccer for one Cork man.

Noel Hennessy was born in Shandon Street 65 years ago but it was on the southside of Cork that he started his coaching career. Wilton United stalwart Pat Bowdren was working with Noel Hennessy at the HSE when he told him to call out to training with his son Shane that evening. It was here that Noel Hennessy started his long career in Cork soccer when he started training his son’s team, the U5 and U6s at Wilton United.

“That was in June 1993 and it was the era of the South Side League, even though it was all Cork city involved. It was run by a fantastic man called Tommy Coleman and it was great times,” said Noel.

Noel managed this team all the way up to U16 when at the time there was nowhere for them to progress within Wilton.

We had some great players. My son, Shane was on the team and there was Shane Hegarty, Cian Hill, Gavin Dorney, Jason Sexton, to name a few. It was a fine team.”

With two daughters at home, Noel found himself managing women’s soccer also.

“My daughter Niamh was in first year at Presentation Secondary School and she joined the soccer team and asked me to drop her out to a match at Bishopstown Community School. When we got there, the school’s PE teacher Eileen Coleman introduced me as the manager and I had 30 girls looking at me asking me where they were playing.

“I thought I was only dropping and collecting to a match. I stuck with them however and over the next few months we got organised and we entered the Munster Girls school league and we went on to win the Senior School Cup in U18 in Turners Cross. The first for the school. The referee on the day was Alan Kelly and he was just starting out at the time.”

Noel said that he has fantastic memories from his time with Presentation Secondary School in Ballyphehane.

“We had some great players there too. Barbara, Lynda and Susan O’Connell, Emma Jane Aherne, Bernadine Maher and Jenny Coughlan to name a few. It was a great team. I coached there for nine years and really enjoyed it.”

 Noel Hennessy from The Lough. Picture: David Keane.
Noel Hennessy from The Lough. Picture: David Keane.

In the years that followed Noel found himself coaching at CIT and Cobh Ramblers.

“I took over CIT when football wasn’t going so well. I held trials for a squad of 20 players and 250 people turned but so I knew the interest was there. We won the leagues and in my four years there I came across some fantastic players such as Eoin Lougheed, Anthony Dorney, Brendan Sweeney. Great lads but too many to mention them all.”

Noel also did a six-week coaching programme for the Travelling Community before heading to Cobh Ramblers to help out there. All these roads eventually led him to Rockmount.

Rockmount was always part of our family growing up. 

"My late uncle Tom O’Callaghan was a player and manager and committee member there for over 60 years and he was joined by Liam O’Callaghan. My brother-in-law Flossie Foley was a player there too and my late brother Pat Hennessy was a stalwart for the club and helped greatly in developing the underage structure there.

“Pat’s son Paul Hennessy, my nephew, asked me to help out with the team he was playing on, the juniors. So I called down and ended up managing that team. Their manager, the late Jamsie Corcoran was stepping down so I started that role. My son, Shane also started playing on the team and in our first year we won the league.

Noel Hennessy with his grandson Cillian.
Noel Hennessy with his grandson Cillian.

“Managing a team is a huge commitment so I took a break for a while but I found myself back at Rockmount again last year with my grandson Cillian and granddaughter Aoibhe who both wanted to play soccer. Cian McDonald, who I coached, is managing the U7s with Kieran Sullivan and it was great to come back and help out. I was delighted to have been asked.

“Win, lose or draw. We have to make sure the kids are having fun and that starts with coaching. I am delighted to see former senior players back now coaching at Rockmount and I think that is important for any good coach.”

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