PAUL Holland walked into the Clonakilty senior football manger’s role with his eyes wide open.
He saw for himself their struggles in last year’s county senior football championship when they needed to win the relegation final against Aghada to save their senior status.
Holland was an interested spectator in the crowd when Clon were well beaten by Newcestown and O’Donovan Rossa in the opening rounds, so when he was approached about the vacant manager’s role, after Haulie O’Neill stepped aside, he had some questions of his own.
‘When I met with the club I had more questions than they did. I wanted to know about last year, what happened, why they ended up in the position they did. I watched them a lot last year in the championship so I was interested to hear about it,’ explained Holland, who lives in Timoleague since his move to West Cork seven years ago.
It was a job that appealed to him and he didn’t need too much persuading to take it – his first managerial role with an adult team after he served his apprenticeship with the Cork minor footballers (as coach), Ibane Gaels minor teams and Argideen Rangers as well as his playing days with Clyda Rovers.
What will help Holland this season is that he is not from Clonakilty. He agrees.
‘I am very objective. It does helps that I am not from Clonakilty or originally from West Cork. There is no false talk or false evaluation. What you produce is what you are. I consider myself a Clon man for the year, I’ll do anything for Clon while I’m there but I would still speak up if I felt something wasn’t being done right,’ he said.
Rivals Castlehaven are first up in the Cork SFC this Saturday evening in Rosscarbery, at 7pm, but the colour of the opposition’s jersey doesn’t interest Holland in the slightest, he’s focused on Clonakilty.
‘Clon struggled in the league as well as the championship last year so it was very easy to talk to them at the start of year about this season and what needed to be worked on.
Results speak for themselves. You can talk all you want, but it’s results that define what you’re doing,’ Holland said.
‘Last year couldn’t have been enjoyable for them so, of course, they want to make amends this year. But they learned a lot from last year. They were in a relegation final in both the league and the championship and they won both of those games – that’s a fantastic place to start from. It’s a good foundation because when they were asked big questions, they answered them.
‘It’s now about becoming more consistent in their performances. That comes from being consistent attending training, looking after yourself, looking after your injuries – you get out of it what you put in.’
Happy with the response the players have given him since taking over, Clonakilty have won five of their eight games in Division 1 of the county league, beating Dougas, Clyda, O’Donovan Rossa, Ilen Rovers and, in mid March, Castlehaven.
One of Holland’s jobs is integrating the club’s young players, of successful minor and U21 teams, into the senior setup. It will be the end of the season before a true reflection of the year can be evaluated, before adding the seasoned campaigners like Donal Lyons, Timmy Anglin and Pa O’Regan have decided to step back from senior football this season.
‘We have to be realistic. There is a new person in charge and there are guys coming up out of the minor team stepping up to the senior team – that needs to be managed properly without too much expectation on them,’ he added.