Allan Martin giving back to Cork soccer after great success at every level

Switch to refereeing has proved hugely enjoyable for the former Rockmount underage star
Allan Martin giving back to Cork soccer after great success at every level

Allan Martin before refereeing a game between Carrigtwohill and Bandon at U14.

HE'S keeping his options open for whatever role may come along, but for now, he is loving life as a referee with over 70 games officiated in his first season.

A well-known name in Cork soccer, Allan Martin has achieved a lot of success in the game both as a player and a coach and here he tells us about his roles over the years and the enjoyment he has got from the beautiful game.

“I first joined Rockmount at the age of nine and played under the management of my dad Tom Martin all the way through schoolboys,” said Martin. 

"We had some great players down through the years and won a good few leagues and cups along the way. 

"I spent a lot of time watching the seniors with my dad growing up and all I wanted to do was to play at that level. I was lucky enough to get that chance when I was 17 when Eddie Sheehan who was the manager at the time gave me that opportunity and luckily for me that's where I stayed.” 

The father of two from Tower won many major trophies during his playing career both at local and League of Ireland level but his greatest period was with his beloved Rockmount, especially in the 1999-2000 season.

“One of the biggest highlights for me was the 1999/2000 season under Billy Cronin and Noel Burke where we won the club's first two major trophies, the Munster Senior League and Intermediate Cup and also that season we won the Keane Cup and O’Connell Cup which I had the honour of being captain of. 

"It was the start of some unbelievable years ahead for me as a player and also for the club. Jason Lynch was also manager of Rockmount in 2001/2002 season and led us to another league title.” 

Allan Martin when he captained Rockmount to glory. Picture: Denis Minihane
Allan Martin when he captained Rockmount to glory. Picture: Denis Minihane

As a raw 17-year-old joining a senior team, Martin showed his maturity immediately as he took to the new challenge like a duck to water and from here he flourished.

“It was a bit daunting being in the dressing room with all these senior players at such a young age but every one of them looked after me especially Kieran Sullivan who took me under his wing and helped me along the way. I loved playing for Rockmount but when Billy Cronin took over as manager it was the best time of my career. 

"Billy is one of the best managers ever in the history of the Munster Senior League and his record speaks for itself. As a player, I won five leagues, three Intermediate Cups, Beamish Cups, O’Connell Cups, Keane Cups, and also the Michael Ward Tournament which was something I only could have dreamed about at the start of my senior career.

HARD TO LEAVE

“I got the chance to sign with Cobh Ramblers under Stephen Henderson which was an opportunity I couldn't turn down even though it was hard for me to leave Rockmount. 

"During my time with Cobh I loved the training aspect and also the match side of it but to be honest I did find all the travelling up and down the country difficult due to work commitments at that time. I only stayed for one season but learned a lot from the management team which helped me when I started coaching.

“I played for College Corinthians for a short time under Pat Maher which was very enjoyable for me as he was such a brilliant player himself and to be able to learn from him was another great experience for me but when Billy rang me to sign back with Rockmount I was never going to say no.

“After I finished playing I was delighted when Billy asked me to be part of the management team. It wasn't something that I had planned or even thought of doing as a player but once I started and with the help of Derek Clarke and Kieran Sullivan it was absolutely brilliant and I loved doing it."

Billy Cronin summed up the type of player and person Martin was.

“Alan Martin was one of the best, his intensity, drive and ferocious competitiveness spirit and his aggression was brilliant. He was an intelligent player and played alongside Pat Keane and Darren Doyle. All three were extremely competitive players whom I was lucky to have." 

Next up for Martin was the role of a coach.

“When Billy decided to take a break in 2011 I took over as manager. At the time it was a big step up for me but I had great help from Kieran, Derek, Ray Leahy and Eddie Kenny as part of the management team. 

Little did I think that when I signed for Rockmount at nine years of age would I end up managing the senior team when I finished playing. 

"I only stayed manager for two seasons and even though we lost the Donie Forde final the first season it was nice to win the O’Connell Cup the second season. Both seasons had lots of highs and lows but it was still a great experience for me."

“I took a break myself from football for a bit before I went to Cobh Wanderers as assistant to Michael Deasy. We managed a great set of lads who made my time there really enjoyable and we ended up winning the Keane Cup in our time down there. I finally finished up back with Billy again for the last few seasons before lockdown and we ended up winning another league and Munster Senior Cup which really topped off our time together as it was the only cup that eluded us for so many years.” 

“I started to think about refereeing towards the end of coaching. I started my first game in February which was a bit nerve-racking to be honest but immediately I loved it and I have now finished this season with over 70 games under my belt already. I have got plenty of help and advice already from some experienced referees like Anthony Buttimer, Eddie McNally, Graham Kelly and Ray Murphy so listening and learning from them will hopefully help me going forward."

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