Paul Kerrigan backs Keith Ricken to succeed in Cork football job

Former Rebel skipper was part of CIT side which won 2009 Sigerson Cup under new boss
Paul Kerrigan backs Keith Ricken to succeed in Cork football job

CIT's Paul Kerrigan maintaining possession from DCU's Martin McElroy during a Sigerson Cup game when Keith Ricken was his manager. Picture: Richard Mills.

Former Cork football captain Paul Kerrigan believes that new manager Keith Ricken’s man-management skills will help him to succeed in the role.

Kerrigan first came under Ricken’s tutelage as a 13-year-old and he was part of the CIT side which won the 2009 Sigerson Cup under the St Vincent’s guidance. He is happy to see Ricken given the chance to succeed Ronan McCarthy.

“To be honest, I felt that once his name was in the mix, he’d be the right man for it,” he says.

“I know previously his name had been touted but he really showed his credentials with the U20 All-Ireland in 2019 and the two Munsters.

“Once he came into the race, I felt that he was the outstanding candidate.

“The biggest thing I found is that he challenges you, personally and in front of the group, no matter what your status.

“At the same time, he’d be good to give you praise too, if you deserved it.”

New Cork senior football manager Keith Ricken. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
New Cork senior football manager Keith Ricken. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

“There used to be a Cork county team and a Seandún team,” he says, “effectively the old development-squad system.

“He was over that city team so I had him U13, U14, U15 and U16, and then in my second year minor he came in as a selector. Then I went to CIT and obviously and he worked and works there and he was the manager the year we won the Sigerson.

He was always a good man-manager, but he has got even better at that. I always felt that he was a really good and thoughtful coach.”

That came to the fore in the CIT march to the Sigerson, winning the final on home turf against Dublin IT.

“When we won it, it was my fourth year in college,” Kerrigan says.

“[Daniel] Goulding would have been in fifth year, Ray Carey was in his fourth, Colm [O’Neill] was in his third.

“Prior to that, we were always very thrown together for championship, you mightn’t have had the Kerry fellas until the day of the game.

“There were only small numbers training and it was hard to build it, then. We weren’t cohesive as a group and we maybe didn’t believe that we could win – or didn’t know how far we could go.

“When Keith took over, there was a good group of us on the Cork senior panel but we still had to be there, we had to play the games for CIT and play well in them. I remember playing league games up the country and we had to be there and there were six o’clock trainings in the morning before college.

“He pushed us hard because we were inter-county fellas – he felt that if we weren’t doing it, how would the other fellas follow?

“He challenged us and put belief into us in equal measure. We played the semi-final and I was only okay in the first half, I kicked a point. He gave the team talk and he said, ‘And Paul, you’re going to tog out now and play for the second half’! It got a reaction and I played well in the second half. He was well able to do that.

“I remember we played DCU, a star-studded team, in the quarter-finals. The week before, we were training at six o’clock on a frosty morning and I just got a feeling that we were going to rattle it. We knew we were going to be there or thereabouts because we had the work done and we had good self-belief and a strong team spirit.

“He really instilled that into us and carried it on since. 

That Sigerson was one of my most enjoyable victories ever. 

"The Cork team were away training in La Manga or Portugal and we were at home but we didn’t miss it as it was such a memorable victory.”

Translating his style to senior inter-county football will be the next step for Ricken.

“I think he’ll have his own unique way to get the most out of them,” Kerrigan says.

“I think he’ll challenge them. There’s a whole of young fellas that have come through but it’s a new ball game.

“There has to be a realisation that we’re a good bit off the top teams and maybe a little bit off the rest of the Division 1 teams, so the challenge is there to push themselves and be the best they can be.”

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