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Ronan Collins - There is a strong one club mentality which really benefits the women's team. Cork is just all round is a great club.

Sat, Aug 15 2020

Cork City Women’s manager Rónán Collins is a man embedded into football on Leeside.

The former Cork Schoolboys’ League u16 manager, who won Munster and All-Ireland Inter League titles for the club, has been working with City for almost their entire time in the Women’s National League.

Despite a brief spell at Wexford Youths WFC, Collins has always been a presence at Bishopstown, either working with the academy or the senior team.

“I joined Cork City Women in their first season in the Women’s National League and I later ran the academy for the club,” he said.

“The whole club has been super to work with. I love the fan ownership structure. It really puts community first and foremost. There is a strong one club mentality which really benefits the women’s team. Cork is just all round is a great club.”

“The first season I was with City we were really competitive in the league. We finished third that year, our highest ever finish. As the years progressed, things got difficult for the club but we laid foundations for the future.

“A lot of coaches that did a lot of good work to push the club on. In recent years the club has had a higher points total year on year so it shows that those coaches work is paying off and taking City forward. All those coaches are so proud to work with this club and they love their job. You can really see that coming through in their work.”

“We’re really starting to produce some fantastic young players. We have much more youth this season that recent years. Two thirds of our squad are all teenagers. We have great experienced players in the squad too who will bring the youth through and support them. Things are really moving in the right direction for the club. From where we used to be with just one team with twenty players and a few coaches, we now have a community of hundreds of people working in one massive community.”

“We went from training two days a week to training five days a week. That level of professionalism has really benefited the players. They are fitter and more ready to play senior football. The u17 level had been fantastic in developing players.”

City’s squad boasts a mix of youth and experience that knows the club from the inside out. From Ciara McNamara and Danielle O’Brien, who helped the club lift the 2017 Women’s FAI Cup, to academy graduates Eabha O’Mahony and Shanaugh McCarthy, the team has a strong Cork DNA which will underpin their 2020 season.

This unity and passion in their team was on full show last weekend when Lauren Egbuloniou returned to the side after a 474 day absence.

City celebrated her return like a last-minute winner as she came on at Tolka Park with her club 3-0 down to Shelbourne. The scoreline was irrelevant as they roared for their team mate who battled back from a horrific injury to return to her childhood club.

“Lauren’s return last week has been fantastic for the squad. When she came on, we were 3-0 down, and she had an immediate impact. There’s always a worry that a player who gets a serious injury that young won’t be the same player when they come back from injury. That wasn’t the case, Lauren was electric last weekend. Shanaugh McCarthy, who suffered a horrible injury last year, has received good news this week and she will be back soon enough.”

For all the work Collins and his backroom team have done off the pitch this season, nothing could have prepared them for the COVID-19 shutdown and the state of purgatory Irish football found itself in. Through the weeks and months of lockdown, Collins and his squad were still committed to the cause and were constantly working towards the day they could kick a ball once again.

“This year has been very different for us with the shutdown, but we have used it as an opportunity,” Collins explained, “A lot of girls in the squad grabbed the time by the neck and used it wisely. We gave them all a daily program that had them working on running, sprinting, ball control, and biometric work. They were excellent with it.”

“Every week the players evolved and adapted. The plan we started out with as totally different after three or four weeks over the intensity the girls worked with. You could see the girls took it on themselves and worked hard through the lockdown.”

“The key thing for us is to always put one foot in front of the other. City have been showing this over the last few years. The slow gradual build has really benefited the club.”