WHEN Liam Kearney was appointed as Cork City’s head of academy almost 18 months ago, one of his aims was to provide a support structure for the younger players who might be struggling with certain issues.
Today, Kearney has seen the benefits of having a strong support system in place at the club, and that aid for players is continuing to develop.
“To be honest, it has been huge for us. Last year we would have seen maybe four or five lads use the help being offered to them,” Kearney said.
“We use different people for different situations. Some of the situations lads could have might be more serious and might need a psychologist. Some might need a small bit of counseling and some might need something else.
“So, we have various people who we can put them in contact with and now we have a bursary as well so we are able to cover the cost within the season.
“So, if players need to go for four or five visits, the club are able to cover that.
“In my first year, the club had a system in place where they could pay for a certain amount of visits for someone if they needed to see someone. They saw the benefits of that because it was used. I went then and got a sponsor from Everseen.
“They are an AI company and they have been very good for me over the last few years in coming in and helping out with sponsorship for the academy.
“He is actually my cousin Alan O’Herlihy (CEO of Everseen. I was telling him what we needed the sponsorship for.
“I wanted to break it up to show him where the money would be going and how it would be used so we created a bursary then for players who need to go and speak to someone.
“So it was through his investment or sponsorship that we were able to do what we had been doing but on a bigger scale this year.
“We can see players are availing of it and staff can also avail of it. I think it is huge because that is only the players that are coming to us as well, so there are probably more players that I don’t even know about that could do it as well.”
Earlier this year, there was some conflict between the Cork Schoolboys League and Cork City about the timing of U14 players leaving their local clubs to sign for the League of Ireland side. Kearney is hoping that there will be more clarity in place in the future surrounding the timing of the U14 league.
“It’s been a very strange situation this year where we brought in all the players we were looking at bringing in in the first place.
We have had games every week for them against other academies in Ireland. They have been classed as friendlies but it is a development year anyway, so regardless of winning or losing; we don’t look at that as our priority.
“It’s more about the style of football the lads play and to assess what they have learned.
“We have been delighted with that in the games we have seen. Greg Yelverton is a great coach and has put a lot of work in with them.
“Going forward; we are hoping this year there will be much more clarity of when the U14s will be starting.
“We are hopeful that it will be the same as the U15s, U17s, U19s, in March. Last year was a nightmare in terms of the uncertainty and lack of clarity. The decision was made out of nowhere that the league wasn’t starting until after the Kennedy Cup.
“We weren’t expecting that. No one was expecting that, considering the U14s started the same as everyone else the year before.
“So it put things into disarray and caused relationship problems with ourselves and the Schoolboys League.
“It just created a problem, where it shouldn’t have been the case.
The earlier we get players into the club; the quicker we can work with them.
“Whatever people think about how we do things, and I would like to think we do things well, it’s the players playing against the best players in the country is what brings them on the most, and I think there is no argument for that; for me anyway.”
Kearney will apply his athletic abilities to another sport this weekend when he will compete in the Cork Marathon.