Saturday 27 May 2017

Cork City demise no surprise for Kearney

Neil Ahern and Daniel McDonnell

HE is paid to kick around a leather ball, but it seems Liam Kearney has become just as gifted with the ball of the crystal variety.

Having seen three of his last four clubs suffer financial meltdown, he knows all too well what his former team-mates at Cork City are feeling this week.

And Kearney, now with Waterford United, claims that he saw the Leesiders' demise coming. Indeed, that is why he departed his hometown club at the end of 2008 after a row over owed wages.

"We won the Setanta Cup and were hoping that things would be rebuilt with Tom (Coughlan)," said Kearney, who has also played for Shelbourne and Derry. "But at the end of that season, I could see clearly the way things were going.

"You look at the person in charge of the club and think 'it's not going to go to plan'. At the same time, I was from Cork and I had a lot of good times there. But I had a fair idea of what was to come and, unfortunately, I was right in my perception of things.

"As a player, you can deal with so much because, at the end of the day, we love playing football. We would probably play for free if we weren't playing pro, but it's our livelihood."

St Patrick's Athletic defender Damien Lynch believes that the collapse of City could prove a positive for the League of Ireland in the long run.

Lynch thinks that the drastic fall from grace experienced by leading clubs such as the Cork and Derry sends out a powerful message. "I think something had to happen," Lynch said.

"It can't get better until it gets to the very bottom and I don't think it had hit rock bottom. Cork are gone now and hopefully the supporters can take it on and come back with a strong club.

"It's been an absolute nightmare the last two years and everybody knows that something had to happen. If Cork can be the catalyst to getting it right, it can only be a good thing.

"Maybe there's new structures needed. The wages were too high and I don't think that's the players' fault. I don't know if the people who run the clubs over here are taught how to run professional sports institutions and maybe that's something which needs to be addressed."

Lynch reckons that last year was his worst in professional football, with the under-performing Saints fighting relegation with a dressing-room full of high earners falling well short of expectations.

"The attitude of a number of the lads wasn't great," he said.

"I'm not afraid to say that out loud. It's no secret. I felt sorry Jeff Kenna. He had some great ideas but was probably a scapegoat for what went on."

Current Saints boss Pete Mahon believes the departure of Cork and Derry from the top flight could be a "watershed" for the game here, with the Saints now working off a far more modest budget as a part-time operation.

Meanwhile, Cork City FORAS Co-op have appointed Tommy Dunne as their manager for the new season. Dunne was assistant to Paul Doolin at Cork City last season.

Irish Independent

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