Stephen Birmingham explains how the Cork City underage system works

Rebel Army now have a pathway from U14 through to the first team
Stephen Birmingham explains how the Cork City underage system works

Cork City manager Stephen Birmingham. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

CORK CITY academy coach Stephen Birmingham has praised the club’s underage infrastructure.

Birmingham has praised the huge work that people at the club are doing to make sure that the players are given the best resources to help them succeed in the game.

“I think the academy is getting stronger. We have a very good pathway from U14 through to U15, up to U17, U19, and then onto the first team. We have a lot of lads involved in the first team that have come through the academy, which is great to see.

“There is a lot of great work being done in the academy. There is a huge coaching staff there, obviously being led by Liam Kearney as Head of the Academy, who is putting in huge work in that area as well.

Liam Kearney.
Liam Kearney.

“We are getting some very good players coming into the club. So obviously there is a lot of good work being done by the club coaches and their own clubs prior to coming into us. The standard is getting very high.

“You can see that by the teams competing in the elite phrases of competitions.

“I think now with players not being able to move to England until they are 18, that it is really important that the FAI put in place a platform through the clubs that would give players the opportunity to play against the best players in the country.

“We train three days a week, with a match at the weekend. Included in those training sessions, is a lot of gym work. We feel that that work is very important. 

It is very age-specific, led by an excellent strength and conditioning coach we have at the club Steve Barry.

“We have Amanda, Shane Long, Damien Coleman, all doing great work within the club. I think when players come into us; from the very start, they all have a great attitude.

“They all work very hard. They all want to improve, and that is the biggest thing we are looking for. As coaches it’s obviously a lot easier when you have players that are willing to develop and that is our main focus, especially with the underage teams.

GUIDELINES

“The FAI have guidelines and procedures in place that look to get every player to play at least 30 minutes in each game.

“At that level, it’s three-thirds. Three 30 minutes. So the guidelines from the FAI is that everyone plays 30 minutes.

“It is a good incentive for players to work hard during the week, and get an opportunity to play at the weekend."

With the vote having passed by Foras to sell the club, Cork City will be under new ownership in the form of Dermot Usher next season. Birmingham was quick to acknowledge the great work Foras did to get an academy structure in place at City and believes that manager Colin Healy will continue to bring through academy players in the first-team despite having a healthier budget at his disposal.

“Firstly I think Foras deserve huge credit for what they did. Without them, there would be no club and therefore no academy.

“They were very supportive. The committee used to attend a lot of games, which was great.

“I think with the takeover, and Colin Healy being the manager, and having been the Head of Academy before, he knows the importance of the academy.

“I think just seeing what has been happening over the last number of years, the number of players that are advancing from the academy and representing the first-team, and representing the international team, that there are great players coming through the academy.

“I don’t think that things will change there.

The pathway will always be there for players to progress to the first team. I think Cork as a county has some excellent players and I think Colin is fully aware of that. He is constantly at the academy games.

“I mean this year with the U15s, Colin attended a number of our games. I know he was at a number of U17 and U19 games as well.

“Both himself, Richie Holland, and Decky Coleman have all been involved in the academy over a number of years, so they know how important the academy is, and how strong it is nationally.

“I see that the players will continue to get opportunities over the next number of years. I think the takeover will be great, and I think that Dermot Usher will see the great work that is being done with the academy.”

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