AS Cork City prepare for tomorrow night’s home clash with Athlone, they will have to do so without Ronan Hurley, who today jetted off to ply his trade in the US.
The Schull native takes up a scholarship at the University of New Hampshire and he tells us how the opportunity came about and how much he is looking forward to it.
“I was actually looking into going on a US soccer scholarship after sixth year, but I began training with the first team at Cork City and was offered a contract, which I couldn’t turn down,” he said.
“I now feel like after completing my four-year degree in Commerce in UCC that it’s the perfect time to go over there, as it gives me an opportunity to continue my studies, while playing at a high level and experiencing a different culture in soccer, and life in general.
“The team that I’m heading over to has players from all over the world so that will be interesting.
“I reached out to Jake Dykes and Ben Spelman, who work in Atlantic Scholarships. They are a sports scholarship service that provide athletes with opportunities to receive scholarship offers with US colleges.
“It’s a very long and difficult process so I couldn’t recommend them any higher as they made the job extremely easy for me. I had several conversations with them and explained what I wanted. from this opportunity.”
He wanted to play at the best possible US soccer college while also doing a Masters in business administration.
“Many colleges came back with interest, but after looking at the University of New Hampshire and seeing that they are a top 10 Division 1 soccer college and that they provide an MBA, it ticked both boxes for me. They have won the America East Conference for the last five years and are looking to push on and win the national title this year.
“The university is about an hour and a half from Boston. I’ll be living with lads on the team, whom I don’t know yet but I’m sure it will be great.
“I hope to play as many games as possible, improve myself as a player, and help the team win the America East and give the All-American a good go.
“I think going to a new country and playing with players from all over the world will challenge me, and it’s something that really excites me.
My overall aim is to perform well over there, which will open up more opportunities for me soccer-wise, whether that’s in the USL or somewhere else.
“I also hope to complete my MBA, which will be a difficult degree, but one which will be worth doing once I have completed it. Balancing soccer and my studies is something I’ve been able to do very well up to this date, and I hope to continue to do that successfully.”
He loved every minute of his time with City from the first day he walked in as a 16-year-old.
“Everything was very professional from U17s to U19s and then on to the first team. If you told me when I signed for the 17s that I would have made 65 plus appearances, while also playing in the Europa League, I’d have bitten your hand off!”
Travelling to an from west Cork as an academy player was difficult, but he was dedicated to his sport.
“I feel like I’ve developed into a very good defender, but I still have areas to improve upon in terms of attacking, which I will continue to work on in the US.”
Leaving Ireland and his beloved Cork City was a tough decision for the 22-year-old, but it is a challenge he is looking forward to.
“It was a very tough decision to leave as I’ve been with City for the last seven years, it has become my life. Everything revolved around training and matches with City, so leaving was hard .
“I became very close with the lads on the team who I was living with, so leaving the house and not being with them every day will be a big change. Leaving my family will also be strange, especially because my eldest brother is in London and the middle brother is in Canada, so my parents are at home by themselves now.
“But we will all be home for Christmas, so that’s something to look forward to.”