WHILE it was love that brought him to settle in Cork, Ian Bennis has the best of both worlds juggling both family life and football, his two great joys in life.
Originally from Limerick but now living in Rathcormac with his rock, his wife Caitriona and son Sean, Bennis has enjoyed an illustrious playing career with great clubs such as Pike Rovers, and Fairview of Limerick and St Michael’s of Tipperary, as well as League of Ireland stints with Limerick and Cobh Ramblers. Now he is back for his second term with MSL side Mayfield as he takes over as manager.
The father of three — to Alex, Zach and Sean — has one ambition this season and that is to get Mayfield back playing in the top tier of football again. They were unlucky last season finishing third in the league but the Pop Keller winners medal was a consolation and a superb end to their season.
Bennis, takes over from John Lawlor, John Meade and Micky O’Shea who were brought in mid season last year replacing Craig Robinson, and he is looking forward to putting his own stamp on things.
“Pre-season has been excellent as I got the lads back the end of June so its been enjoyable so far and I can’t wait to get started. We have a few friendlies coming up against Youghal, Fairview and Pike Rovers of Limerick and that will be good preparation for the season.”
Having previously worked under Brendan Cronin at Mayfield, Bennis is familiar with his surroundings and thought it made sense to have Cronin back involved.
“This is my second spell with Mayfield, on my last spell here back in 2016-‘17 I came in with Brendan Cronin as player-coach. I came in as goalkeeping coach with the club looking after all keepers from underage up and even togged out in a few games when we were badly stuck.
“I was delighted to be able to call on the experience of Brendan as assistant manager who himself has had a fantastic career with Mayfield but in general his knowledge of the game will be key to the squad for the season. I’m also fortunate to have Greg Kelly as player/coach, another with years of experience at the top, Dermy Ryan as strength and conditioning coach, another with an abundance of knowledge with the game and his S&C work for the group will be vital to have them peeking at the right time.
“I’m also delighted to have two Mayfield stalwarts on board, John Stevens and Pat Bozynski where their in put and helping with the team preparations will be a massive cog in the push for promotion. That’s the aim, and an improvement from last year gives them a huge chance.
“Last season finishing third was fantastic for the squad, if you look back on the start of the season we dropped silly points that in the end cost us a shot of promotion or even winning the league. There was a change of management after a couple of months and to be honest when John Lawlor, John Meade and Micky O’Shea came in you could see the difference.
“Now that’s not taking away the good work that Craig Robinson had done with the group but the change was good, and look we had a few good cup runs beating some serious sides on our travels and picked up the Pop Kelleher Cup to cap off a fantastic year.
We’ve one aim this year and that’s promotion, to win the league would be a bonus but all we’ll be focusing on is getting to the top league.
"As always there’s some serious teams to contend with but with the squad we’ve assembled fingers crossed come the end of the season we’ll be at the helm.”
Players wise they’ve a few but have replaced them with quality.
“Cian Kelleher has the world of experience been there done that over the last few years, can play in a number of different positions and gives us huge options and we were delighted to get him in along with Kevin O’Connor from Ballinhassig who for me is one of the best young attacking players in the league and he will bring so much to our squad.
“We’ve also brought in a centre-forward Max who has been applying his footballing skills in Poland. We’ve two or three more new lads training with us so squad-wise we’ll be strong. Our squads average age is 22 but we do have an abundance of experience within, with the likes of Adam Mylod, Conor Sexton, Greg Kelly and Cian Kelleher on board so they will be key for the younger lads in our group.
Within this great club we have a fantastic underage setup from U5s all the way up and to be honest the club is going from strength-to-strength thanks to all the hard work from the coaches and committee.
We’re also blessed to have a very good U19s and Junior team for which we are able to bring up the good talent into our group to try and give the younger players the experience of training with the senior side and even get some game time under their belts, so a big thank you to their respective coaches.”
It’s been far too long since this great club has been in the top division, in 2015, and with a big push from the squad and a bit of luck along the way they’re sure to push for a return.