Dennehy feels back at 'home' with Cork City
Four years after leaving Cork City for Shamrock Rovers Billy Dennehy returns to Turner's Cross and City for the new League of Ireland season. Kieran McCarthy spoke to the Tralee native
BILLY Dennehy feels that he is back where he belongs.
Four years after leaving Cork City, and after four seasons in the capital with Shamrock Rovers, the move the Tralee man (27) always hoped would materialise finally did, last November.
New Cork City boss John Caulfield came calling. Dennehy (a free agent at the time) answered in double-quick time, enticed by the prospect of returning to City where he spent the 2009 season and equally so by the chance to play alongside his younger brother, Darren (24), who signed for City the previous campaign.
A decade on from their days at St Brendan's Park in Tralee, and after two different journeys that took both Dennehy brothers across channel before the call of home sounded, Billy and Darren will line out side by side once more – a dream come true for the duo.
"I moved away when I was 16 and Darren moved to Everton shortly afterwards," explained Billy, who joined Sunderland back in 2005 when Mick McCarthy was in charge of the Black Cats.
"I always wanted to play in the same senior team as Darren, to be out there competing for trophies with him, and it's great now to be able to come in and train with him every day, have the craic and the banter.
"For it to be a local club like Cork City, considering we're just from over the county bounds, that was a big reason why I signed as well because Darren was already on board at that stage.
"It was a no-brainer. It was the only place I wanted to come. I always wanted to come back here. It will be great to be out on the pitch with Darren, and it's even better for our mom and dad because they won't have the headache of trying to support two teams now. It makes it easier for them that we"re on the one team!
"To have it so close to home is a big thing because our parents, our little nephew, our family and friends can come to watch us now, and that will drive us on with them watching."
Billy and Darren both started Cork City's Munster Senior Cup 3-1 quarter-final win over Waterford United last weekend – Billy in attack, Darren in the heart of the defence in Caulfield's first official game in charge of the club.
This Friday night, at 7.30pm, the serious business begins as City host champions St Patrick's Athletic, with Keith Fahey on board, in Turner's Cross in the opening weekend of the Airtricity League.
It's a special night for the club, for Billy in his first appearance back as a City player in four seasons, and for the club legend that is Caulfield, the West Cork-claimed man that is charged with returning the Cork club to genuine contenders.
"When John phoned me and I met up with him, I knew that he was a manager that I wanted to play for. He is very driven himself, he puts in a lot of time with the players and I"m enjoying training so far," Billy said.
"There's a fair bit of excitement building up but it's going to be a hard season with a lot of tough games. Hopefully as a squad we can stand up to all the games that come our way and that we will give a good account of ourselves."
Four seasons with Shamrock Rovers where he scored 37 goals in 172 games, winning two league titles and two Setanta Cups with the Hoops in that time, was an education that has moulded the Kerry man into the player he now is.
"I have never taken this for granted," the former Ireland U21 and U23 international said. "Since I came home (from England) I feel that I have learned the game more. I went over as a kid to England really but since I came home, to Cork first of all and then my years with Rovers, it's definitely moulded me as a player and I know now what I want to achieve."
And how those results come, once they do arrive, won't cause Billy any sleepless nights.
"It's a results business. I am the type of player where I don't mind if people say we didn't play well once we win. That's the way I am. I don't care how it happens, once we win games, no matter how we do it," Billy said.
"It's going to be very tough. We know that. It's a hard league. A lot of teams have strengthened again this year but we have the core of a good group of lads who are willing to work hard and do their best. Once you have that you have half a chance."
On this Friday afternoon at the club's training grounds in Bishopstown, Billy looks at home in familiar surrounds but a lot has changed since that 2009 season when he scored seven goals from the wing.
"It's made massive strides since. The training facilities are a lot better now, the gym and everything like that is all there for you when you come in," he said.
"When I was with the club first it was going through a difficult time off the pitch but I loved playing in Turners Cross, and I am looking forward to playing there again."
Now in the prime of his career, Billy's ready to help Cork City's push into the top four of the league and spark a new era with the club, and what's even better is that his brother Darren is sharing the journey.
They've taken different routes. Billy's been to Sunderland, Accrington Stanley, Derry City, Cork City and Shamrock Rovers. Darren's played with Everton, Cardiff City, Hereford United, Gillingham and Barnet. But now the Dennehy brothers are reunited. At last.
And Cork City will reap the benefits from this helping of Kerry gold.