#PoweredByPeople - Cork City FC

Community 5 min read

25 Feb 2020

“Saying you play for Cork City, it’s an honour. It’s such a high performance set up, you know. You’ve access to the best facilities and the best coaches. It spurs you on to be the best you can be.”

From its formation, Cork City FC has always been the epicentre of the People’s Republic. Founded in 1984 when two clubs, Cork Hibernians and Cork Celtic folded; Hibs in 1977 and Celtic in ’79, both citing financial difficulties for their demise. Cork United filled the gap between 1979 and 1982, before also going bankrupt. This led to the birth of Cork City Football Club, founded by members of a number of existing or recently folded clubs.
Since its formation as Cork City FC, the club has become one of the most recognisable faces in League of Ireland football. The club has produced home-grown heroes, who have made a name for themselves on the world’s football stage. The importance of playing for the badge is something which is engrained in players from the time they begin their journey with the Rebels.

Arguably, the most important aspect of the club set-up in Cork City FC is the academy. This is the place where young talent goes to grow. A key feature of Cork City FC and the academy in today’s game is the influence of former players coming back to impart their knowledge to the current crop of players in Cork City. Players such as Neale Fenn and Colin Healy, both with decorated personal careers, have made it their business to come back to City, and pass on their knowledge and expertise to the future generation coming through the ranks.
The academy in Cork City FC has produced some of the country’s finest footballers and continues to do so today. The academy is structured in age groups from under 13’s to under 19’s. Academy players train, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and play matches on Saturdays. They also have access to video analysis, strength & conditioning coaches, coach education evenings and nutrition talks to ensure every aspect of their game is the best it can be.

Getting players to the next level is top of the agenda for Cork City’s Head of Academy, Colin Healy. Healy started his professional playing career in 1998 when he made the trip to Celtic FC. Scoring three goals in his time at Celtic Park, Healy gathered a decorated career spanning to Sunderland, Barnsley and lots more in between. He came back to Cork to finish his career where it all began as a youngster. Now as the Head of the Academy in Cork City F.C., Healy understands what it takes to make it to the next level.

“It’s important for us as coaches to allow the players to become the best that they can be. Here in Cork City, the academy players play against the best players and the best teams, so they have no option but to be the best that they can be.” 

The set-up of the academy in Cork City is structured in such a way that when players are going over to the UK or to an International team, they are playing at the level needed to meet the standards.

“It is vital that players don’t look out of their depth when they go abroad to play football, and it’s our job as coaches to get them where they need to be”

First team coach Neale Fenn, also values the academy and the advantages it brings to him the manager of the reds.
‘’It’s important to have an academy because it allows you to produce players who know what it means to play for Cork. This year we gave seven players professional contracts from our under 19’s, and this is something we want to continue. Having the academy is vitally important for us to continue the work we are doing to develop the club as a whole”

Development of players is not just something coaches are aware of. The players themselves value the importance of the structure in Cork City and appreciate the academy set up. The opportunities for young players to get where they need to be, stems from the community feel around the Cork City camp. Everyone has a place, everyone has an opportunity and the focus on young talent, can only show the future is very bright.

Youngsters such as academy under 15, Cathal Heffernan, feels that being part of Cork City’s academy is so much more than just being a footballer. The access they have to the video analysis, strength and conditioning training, nutritional knowledge and plans and the quality of coaches, develops the younger generation not only in football but in life.

“Saying you play for Cork City, it’s an honour. It’s such a high performance set up, you know. You’ve access to the best facilities and the best coaches. It spurs you on to be the best you can be.”

For players like Cathal, seeing a number of the academy players from last years under 19 squad, get professional contracts gives them something to aim for.
“Seeing the lads last year get their chance at first team football really shows me that anything is possible if I work hard enough.”

Alec Byrne, who now plays first team football with the Rebels, values the importance of the academy set up and credits it for the success he has enjoyed as a footballer so far. He was once a younger player hoping to get his chance as a footballer, and being part of the academy in Cork City, allowed him to do just that. Rising through the ranks in Cork has allowed Byrne to reap the rewards of the top quality coaches and opportunities on offer.
“The academy is really important for me and other players coming through. All the academy coaches are ex-players themselves and with that brings a wealth of experience, which helps the younger players to grow and develop.”

“Being part of the academy has really helped me, I know what the clubs philosophy and system they want to play all the way up. I’ve learned what it means to play for the club, what the fans expect and how you play for the badge. It’s really shaped and made me passionate about playing for Cork City.

Cork City FC’s academy rely on sponsorship from local businesses to keep up the standards they expect. As a community based organsiation, the Cork Credit Unions realised the importance of nurturing young talent within their community and have come together to sponsor Cork City FC's academy. You can find out more about the sponsorship here

 The players, coaches and managers of Cork City are honoured to have the credit unions by their side.

“The support from the credit union has been phenomenal, they sort out everything you know. They look after us by giving us access to video analysis, sorting our pre match meals when we go away, getting us strength and conditioning coaches and it’s just a real pleasure to have them by our side” – Cathal Heffernan, Cork City Academy Player and Irish Under 15 International.

“The sponsorship by the credit union is really importance because it goes back in to the club for training facilities, and everything we can give them to be better players and the sponsorship just allows us to take it to the next level.” – Colin Healy, Head of Academy at Cork City FC.

The sponsorship helps massively. It’s expensive to run an academy, there’s a lot of cost involved in it and when you have the quality of coaches we have, who have professional standards, it’s important to keep those standards high. The sponsorship and the funding from the credit union is vitally important in that.” – Neale Fenn, Manager, Cork City FC

Cork City F.C's story was told as part of our #PoweredByPeople series – a campaign which celebrates tales of community support – and highlights exactly what the credit union stands for: people helping people. If you’d like to get involved and tell your story, we’d be more than happy to hear it. Simply get in touch by contacting Jane at jdaly@creditunion.ie.