How will Colin Healy’s time be remembered at Cork City and where does the club go from here?
For starters, Healy’s stint at the club wasn’t just the two-and-a-half years he spent as first-team manager. He was an incredible player with the Rebel Army and also spent several years working in the academy.
That pedigree meant he was always a popular choice with supporters when he was appointed at the end of 2020. It wasn’t an easy task for Healy when he first took over the reins. He was taken over a side that had just been relegated and had a complete building job to do with the squad after a mass exodus of players following the club’s relegation. A constricted budget meant that he had to go with youth and the team struggled in that first year, eventually missing out on the playoffs.
However with a healthier budget in his second season, Healy was able to add experienced players to the squad, and City deservingly won the title. There was a bit of optimism about how the club would do on their return to the Premier Division but sadly results weren’t good enough, and that culminated in his departure.
Was it a shock? I was and I wasn’t surprised by the timing of Healy’s exit.
He had spoken in the past of how player recruitment was affected at the start of the season because of the timing of Dermot Usher’s takeover, and I felt he was just waiting to add a few more players during the summer transfer window before having a massive overhaul at the end of the season.
He realised this current group was not good enough to have City competing at the top of the table and his aim would have been keeping City in the league – which I think he would have – before making those changes in the summer.
However, his comments after City’s 5-0 loss against Bohemians indicated he had just had enough and needed a break. Management must be a stressful job at the best of times. Having decisions go against you, results not being good, and a minority of supporters turn against you, cannot be easy.
At least when you are a player you can share the responsibility with your teammates when things are going bad, but as a manager, they must feel a lot more pressure and responsibility. Perhaps Healy just thought it was time for a rest before his next challenge.
Did the appointment of Liam Buckley as Sporting Director contribute to Healy’s exit? It must have. It can’t be a coincidence the day Buckley arrived at the club was the same day Healy left.
Perhaps Healy was blindsided by Buckley’s appointment and felt it undermined him. Maybe it was the club’s vision to introduce the Dubliner slowly into the club by allowing him to gain more insight as a director of football, where there is less pressure rather than throwing him into the deep end as manager straight away.
Either way, Healy has left, and Buckley could be given the role sooner than anticipated.
Would Buckley taking over as manager be a bad thing? Absolutely not. He has won numerous trophies in the league with his teams playing a brand of football that would excite City supporters.
However, I feel it would be difficult for him to implement his style immediately with this current group of City players and would need time as well as new additions to the squad before we really see a Liam Buckley side. Buckley has distanced himself from taking the job but people have been persuaded to change their mind in the past.
Apart from Buckley, it’s difficult to put forward a strong argument for any other candidate available. I don’t feel another former player is the way to go, as City’s past three full-time managers were.
I’d like to see the club try to get Shelbourne assistant manager Joey O’Brien. Having worked with O’Brien, I know how good a leader he is, and the potential he has to be a great fit for Cork City.