Monday 16 September 2019

Fenn's Cork task has significance for the entire league

'Should Fenn (p) prove to be a worthy successor to John Caulfield, the minutiae of his arrival will quickly become an irrelevance - although Longford fans may struggle to get over it if their promotion challenge derails.' Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
'Should Fenn (p) prove to be a worthy successor to John Caulfield, the minutiae of his arrival will quickly become an irrelevance - although Longford fans may struggle to get over it if their promotion challenge derails.' Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The hope for everyone involved with Cork City is that Neale Fenn's stint as manager goes smoother than the handling of his appointment.

It will all fade into memory quickly enough but Fenn's abrupt exit from Longford and the confirmation that John Cotter had missed out on the job made for an unusual preparation for last Friday's cup tie in Galway.

With Fenn in the stands - but not announced as the boss - and an undermined Cotter on the sideline, Cork crashed out at the hands of the First Division strugglers.

Cotter said the uncertainty interrupted preparations, although it doesn't excuse the performance. Cork's players should be capable of much, much better.

Still, to use golfing parlance, Cork's hierarchy would probably take a mulligan on the week if it was offered.

It is possible, though, that Cork have resigned themselves to a bit of short-term pain for the sake of long-term gain. On this season's form, they were never going to win the thing.

Should Fenn prove to be a worthy successor to John Caulfield, the minutiae of his arrival will quickly become an irrelevance - although Longford fans may struggle to get over it if their promotion challenge derails. The League of Ireland is a healthier place when Cork are going well, and it's important that they are in good shape as we approach a pivotal point for the direction of the game on the island. It had gone stale under Caulfield and Cotter - who returns to the post of assistant for now - struggled to bring the buzz back.

The Cork sporting public might be fickle, but a winning Leesiders team can generate a level of support that other clubs could only dream of.

If Fenn can sort out their squad and recruit well over the winter, Cork have the potential to kick off the new campaign with full houses - regardless of the opposition.

The recent history of senior football in Cork is volatile, to say the least. Under a fan-owned structure, it was a big move to transfer to a full-time, 52-week-a-year set-up around the double win in 2017.

Unfortunately, they failed to build on that. Caulfield will go down as the club's best ever manager but he lost his touch in the transfer market and Cork's old board made curious budgetary decisions that left them in a spot of bother earlier this year.

A new team has effectively assumed control and they have placed their faith in Fenn to bring back the good times, with his fondness for attractive football cited as a significant factor.

The 42-year-old said all the right things at his unveiling, speaking about a club that was "dear to his heart" and hailing the "biggest club in the country with the best fans of the country".

As they face into a first year without European football since 2014, Cork need a competitive team capable of generating the interest that can back up that statement. Fenn's success or failure will determine where the club goes from here.

Irish Independent

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