Athlone boss cooke planning drogs raid
Mick Cooke is planning to build up the squad at his new club Athlone Town by returning to raid players from his former one, Drogheda United.
Still bitter at the way his relationship with Drogheda unfolded – where his contract was not renewed despite the fact he is the second most successful manager in the club's history – Cooke is deliberately targeting the men who he helped win five medals over the course of the last two seasons.
Appointed as Roddy Collins' successor at Athlone last Thursday, Cooke used his unveiling on Saturday to reveal how he had rejected an offer from an unnamed Championship club, as he seeks managerial rehabilitation closer to home.
"I'm delighted and relieved to have work again," said Cooke. "There are so many managers out there who have a Pro License but don't have work. And after losing the FAI Cup final a few weeks ago, I was very emotional having to say goodbye to a group of players who achieved what they did.
"I knew, three months before the cup final, I would not be staying with Drogheda and barely spoke to the club chairman in the remaining months of my contract. I still genuinely don't know why my stay wasn't extended there."
That he has moved to Athlone is understandable from both parties, the club benefitting from a man who had to rebuild Drogheda from scratch three years ago; and Cooke from the fact he does not have to uproot and work abroad.
"I was offered work with at a London-based club with their U-21s," said Cooke. "Plus, there were interview opportunities in America, in the league below the MLS."
Friday was spent negotiating with prospective signings – six of whom played under Cooke at Drogs, with Saturday used to examine the club's youth structures.
"Attracting players to this club won't be difficult," said Cooke. "Obviously we cannot compete with higher-paying clubs.
"What a player looks for now is the stuff that is in the background, the medical care and the training facilities. Athlone scores well in this regard."