DESPITE seeing his side throw away a two-goal lead against Athlone Town; Cork City manager Colin Healy was happy with how his players performed on Friday night.
The game was a meaningless fixture in terms of the league outcome with City having secured the First Division title in their previous game against Wexford. City made six changes for their clash with Athlone with some of the club’s academy players getting an opportunity to impress.
They also introduced five substitutes during the game, including goalkeeper Corey Chambers who replaced Jimmy Corcoran.
"We gave players opportunities there. We gave Franco (Umeh) an opportunity on the right-hand side. He is in training with us. He’s been fantastic.
"Mark O’Mahoney as well. Also others lads that haven’t been playing as much recently. It's great seeing young lads coming on.
“We did pre-plan the substitutes. It was great for Corey to come on and get his opportunity in goal. He has trained away all season and deserved some game time. But that applies to many others. They all work so hard every day and I know it can be difficult, but we have been in great form this season and it’s hard to change a winning side."
Reflecting on the result, Healy felt that his players should be judged on their entire season as a whole rather than one game. The City boss also praised Athlone for their part in the game, and for their recent impressive form which has seen them pick up 13 points from their last five league games.
"We gave away some very soft goals. Nobody likes to lose but you have to give credit to Athlone. They are in good form at the moment.”
One player that Healy highlighted as unfortunate not to have played more games for the club this season was Dylan McGlade, who was on the scoresheet against Athlone
"We had the likes of Dylan also coming in. Dylan has been great. He scored a great goal. The formation has probably caught a few of the players with the 3-5-2 system that we have used for the majority of the season. But these lads have come in and they put on a good performance."
City's final game of the season is against Bray Wanderers at Turner's Cross on Friday night where the club will be presented with the First Division trophy. There is a sell-out crowd expected on the night and Healy is looking forward to the occasion.
"We have another big game against Bray at Turner's Cross next weekend when we get the trophy in front of over 7,000 fans. Which is fantastic.
"And the players deserve that because they have been brilliant this year. They have worked so hard to achieve what they have and they will be rewarded for it. I’m sure it will be a fantastic occasion."
Friday’s game against Bray will bring down the curtain on City’s season and will also see the end of the Rebel Army’s two-year stint in the lower-tier of Irish football with the club returning to the Premier Division next year for the first time in three seasons.