Cork Soccer: Cian Anderson is as committed as ever to Wilton United

Lifelong club member is player-manager of Wilton's junior team, helping coach his three brothers-in-law
Cork Soccer: Cian Anderson is as committed as ever to Wilton United

Wilton United's Cian Anderson about to be challenged by Darragh Murphy of Passage in the Beamish Stout Junior League Cup at Lee Road. Picture: Denis Minihane.

AFTER tearing his cruciate three times, the temptation was to give up. 

That wasn’t the case for Cian Anderson though. 

The current player-manager of the Wilton United junior team was distraught to hear he'd injured his cruciate again but took this as an opportunity to help the club in another way.

He assumed the job of the manager in 2019, and now that he is back from injury, he’s balancing two roles and enjoying it immensely.

“I’m enjoying playing now more than I ever did so I am very eager to keep going,” said Anderson.

“I have been player-manager for Wilton juniors since December 2019. I certainly wasn’t looking for the role but I tore my cruciate for the third time and this coincided with the manager Noel Spitere needing to step away so I took it on. 

"I was captain of the team for years and was always taking training sessions, so it was hard to say no and I have been there since.

“It’s been nice to have my own young lads at the games however player-manager is a tricky one. 

"Most of the guys in the squad are fellas I have played with for years so it is hard to leave out fellas you have soldiered with. 

"I think everyone has bought into the idea that there are no favourites or anything like that. We are just trying to get the best team we can out on the pitch.

“With work and families, we will always have a few missing so everyone gets some game time which is important. I also have three brother-in-laws in the squad: Denis and David Young and Jason Meehan. 

That can lead to heated conversations over the Christmas dinner. We almost played across a back four earlier in the year but a late pull-out meant we had to jig things around, we will get it yet!” 

Competing in the First Division has proved challenging but the father of two is hopeful of finishing the season on a high.

“The First Division is very strong this year and I think that is reflected in the table outside of the top three. Midleton were the strongest team we played, and they would be my pick for the league, I think they would rattle the Premier. Our main priority is to stay up but I’d be hopeful we can have a strong finish and finish top half."

SUPPORT

He has two club members helping out with the team. 

"Shane Ford has been part of the team for years and had been helping with training as well so he came with me at the start. He plans out a lot of the sessions which we have seen the benefit of on the pitch. 

"Alan Dawson joined us at the start of the year and is a huge help with organising everything from match days to training to gear. 

"Having Alan is also great for myself and Shane who are trying to keep playing. Both of us are in our late '30s so time is running out! 

"He allows us to do that and have a presence on the line. 

“Our squad is a real mix of youth and experience. Brian Kelly is well into his '40s but can still outrun us all. Guys like Pa Kenneally, Eric Cotter, Jeremy Dullea and Denis have over 10 years with this team so they give some advice to the likes of Rory O’Broin and Aaron Buckley who have just come up from our youth team.

“We have 26 in the squad so we always have numbers for good training sessions which was something we had issues with in the past. 

I think as a club we don’t do great in converting our schoolboys into the senior players, so myself and Brendan O’Sullivan, the senior manager, have tried to improve that this year.” 

For the 36-year-old from Douglas, Wilton has been his club since schoolboys, and it’s here he hopes to make an impact bringing more kids through.

Douglas Hall's Brendan Spillane takes on Wilton United's Cian Anderson during the U16 CSL game in 2003. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Douglas Hall's Brendan Spillane takes on Wilton United's Cian Anderson during the U16 CSL game in 2003. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“I joined Wilton when I was eight and never really thought about going anywhere else. I was mostly around the second teams underage but around U15 I started to show a bit of form. 

"I had a few years playing with two age groups which resulted in some great trips away to Portsmouth and Swansea. I was captain when we won the Youth First Division thanks to Shane O’Neill's penalties, which was a great year and kept a lot of us together in the AUL. 

"Since I have joined the senior ranks the trophies have been harder to come by, but we have had a few promotions and had a few trips down the cross which were great days for a huge city fan and winning a trophy there was one of my best days playing.

“My only previous coaching was a couple of great years with the Ballincollig Gunners Special Olympics team. My good friend Joey Haden asked me to come and help with a session and I stayed for five years. 

"It was a good starting point of organising sessions before training, structuring a training with some great crack along the way. We won a few leagues and performed very well in the big tournament in Belfast so it was a great time. 

"It gave me a love for coaching and I love now to be able to give something back to my own club Wilton. Long may it continue.”

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