The festive holidays are always a time of relaxation and merriment for football supporters, but management and players at CCFC have been busy preparing for the new Airtricity League term for several months now. Fourteen players (full list below) are so far signed up for 2013 and manager Tommy Dunne will bring his core group together once again on January 6th.
Cork City’s new partnership with University College Cork (UCC) and the Mardyke Arena will see Dunne’s squad based in the state-of-the-art facilities for at least the next four years and with a week-long training camp at Fota Island Resort also planned for the beginning of February, the Dubliner believes his squad is “as close as (it) can be” to full-time football.
“The players had a two to three-week break at the end of last season after which they started again on their own unique off-season programme,” Dunne explained to CorkCityFC.ie.
“This is probably the only time of year they can focus on building power and strength rather than just doing conditioning work, and it’s important for the lads to have time away from the squad too. If players are together too much, they get stale.”
Conscious that his squad took a little time to get their season up and running in 2012, the pre-season schedule has also had to take Setanta Sports Cup fixtures and the later start date to the league into account.
“We’ll be doing a week of double sessions in Fota Island Resort before hopefully playing a couple of games ahead of the match against Cliftonville at home on the 11th. If we were to solely get ready for that game, we would probably have come back a little earlier but because pre-season is so important for the entire year, we can’t wrap ourselves up in the competition completely either.
“Normally pre-season is six weeks but ours is over eight weeks this year. We’ll do our normal six weeks of training and follow it with two weeks of the type of work you’d usually do during the season. We want to get ourselves that little bit sharper than we were coming into last season.
“We’ll also take the time to think about 2013 as a group – by looking at what our aspirations are and what we need to do to achieve them.”
Dunne welcomed the club’s partnership with UCC and the Mardyke Arena, insisting that the agreement should set an example to the rest of the League of Ireland.
“The facilities put us on par with Premier League and Championship clubs. The Arena is geared towards elite performance and apart from playing at Turner’s Cross and having fantastic supporters, this is another way for us to sell Cork City Football Club to prospective players. With what we’re trying to achieve here, the like of the Mardyke Arena is essential. We are not fully full-time, but we’re as close as we can be.”
He continued: “If you look at a lot of countries across Europe, facilities are always opened up to local clubs – whatever sport is involved – and it’s fantastic for us to have an institution like UCC come on board.
“I think we’ve proven over the last number of years that we are a club for the city and county and that we want to provide a club that everybody has access to. That can be strengthen further if the Councils and other municipal bodies get involved.”
Read the second part of CorkCityFC.ie’s interview with Tommy Dunne later this week when he shares his thoughts on his new signings, reflects on his three years in charge and gives his predictions for 2013!
2013 squad (to date): Mark McNulty, Ian Turner, Danny Murphy, Gearoid Morrissey, Colin Healy, Shane Duggan, John Dunleavy, Kalen Spillane, Kevin Murray, Daryl Horgan, Kevin Burns, Danny Furlong, Daryl Kavanagh, Brian Lenihan.