AFTER 12 years playing National League, Trish Fennelly Hunt has decided to hang up her boots and focus on coaching.
The mother of one was with Limerick outfit Treaty United in 2022 and while it was a hard decision, staying involved in the game has made this week easier as the new season kicked off.
A new role on the sidelines as a goalkeeping coach to Cork City U17s is a fresh challenge for the UEFA B licence holder.
“Because of my love for the game I wanted to keep playing as long as I could. However you know the time is right. It's been an incredible 12 years for me in the league and I have met so many amazing players and coaches and volunteers. It was a very hard decision to make and I must have questioned myself a thousand times over but I was being offered coaching opportunities."
She began her National League career at Cork City so it felt really good to be home.
“Last weekend was tough now I won't lie. I actually kind of started feeling it the Friday night it felt strange not preparing for that first game of the season. I was a bit emotional to say the least but that's how it is I suppose.
"I have amazing memories and Annabelle got to see me play and I'm hoping that will inspire her to reach for whatever she wants to achieve when she is older. I will definitely miss it and still now feel like I could go back and play but I'm sure that's how everyone feels for a bit after they make the decision to stop playing."
She hasn't ruled out playing local league but at the minute between training with City on Tuesday and Thursday and games on a Saturday she's busy enough.
"Especially with my little girl Annabelle because now I am able to spend a lot more time with her and I'm loving that. My husband Paul has also called it a day on his playing career. I think he found the decision a little easier than me as he has given a lot to the league over the years and I think he felt the time was right to step away.
"He is definitely enjoying spending a lot more time with Annabelle and I, well I think so anyway," laughs Fennelly.
"It gives us a lot more more time to spend as a family now and he is training for the half iron man in August so that is keeping him busy at the minute."
A committed player who would rarely miss a training session, life is suddenly very different.
“I definitely feel a massive difference in my free time with me playing in Limerick and travelling to training and every match was an a away match as such. Now for training it's only a few mins drive there and home and home games are actually at home. So, it's a lot less travel and more time at home with the family.
“I'm enjoying my time with the City U17s. I'm learning as I go as this is my first proper coaching role!
"I had been doing my badges over the last couple of years so that when the time came I would be ready for it I have my UEFA B outfield my Youth B outfield and I recently graduated from my UEFA Goalkeeping B course.
"I had seen my brother Anthony do his badges over the years and knew it was something I wanted to do. We were only saying it's a bit ironic really two of us ending up at City this year and both as coaches. He is with City senior men's but its great for me because I'm lucky enough to have Paul and Anthony to go to for any advice I need.
“So while I might have thought I would play another year, I’m content with the coaching role. I'm hoping my playing experience will be of huge help.
“My aim for the season is to learn and grow from the experience as well as hopefully use my experience to help develop the players I'm working with even if it's only in the smallest way. I want to embrace the challenge and obviously we as a team are aiming to win as many games as possible and top our group but we will take each week as it comes and go from there.”