Winning isn’t everything: An Interview with Cork City U15 manager Billy Woods

Andrew Horgan

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Shortly after the referee signaled for full time in the under 15 Munster Derby, Cork City‘s manager Billy Woods quickly congratulated his Limerick counterpart for their victory before taking shelter inside the old Stadium in Bishopstown.

The dreadful rain seemed to sum up the general feeling around the team at that moment as their underwhelming start to the new under 15 SSE Airtricity League continued with a 3-1 defeat at home to their arch-rivals in Group three.

The old Stadium in Bishopstown now the home of the Cork City u15s (photo by Andrew Horgan).
The old Stadium in Bishopstown now the home of the Cork City u15s (photo by Andrew Horgan).

“I was disappointed more about the way we played rather than the result, we didn’t do ourselves any justice,” admitted Woods as he attempted to dry himself inside the old gear room.

“Last week I thought we played really well good but against Limerick we started ok but then gave away dreadful goals particularly the first goal. The second goal was a good goal in fairness, a great hit from them. Third goal was another poor goal from our perspective.

“We never played. Last week we looked to play, we looked to pass the ball, these are the fundamentals from any football team particularly a Cork team. Work ethic, ability to get on the ball and to be brave on the ball and we didn’t do any of that today and we deserved nothing.”

The disappointment and frustration emanated from the former Cork City senior’s left back who had a career of playing at the highest level and challenging for the major honours in Ireland.

But the 2005 League of Ireland winner was keen to add perspective to this new challenge he now faces in charge of the Leesider’s youngest side.

“It’s a learning opportunity for the boys. We say we’re trying to give them habits and broaden their understanding of the game. We are a particularly young team, ourselves and Cobh are the youngest teams in the league at this level.

“With 14-year-old boys, you’re going to have games where they’re up and down, some play really well, some not so well. You’re going to win games, you’re going to lose games. We’ve won three games and lost three but that’s part of it. From our point of view, we’re not ego driven. You are going to get people who are obsessed about winning, we’re not.

“If you win an under 15 trophy, it doesn’t matter. It’s about where the players are in three or four years’ time whether they’re first team players at Cork City, that’s the most important thing. For Dan (Murray) and myself, our job is to bring them in at 14, to give them good habits and show them what’s required to play at a professional level.

“As I say though these are young kids, it’s a learning aspect to the game that we are trying to build on week in week out and instill a sense of what is required to progress.”

Even at 43, Woods himself is still learning as he embarks on this new experience. Despite having previously worked as a coach with Cork City, this is the first time he has been involved with a group at this tender age and it is something he admits he is enjoying.

“It’s been very interesting to go back and work with boys 14-year-old boys and I suppose impart knowledge and broaden their understanding of the game.

“I think we’re doing that. The boys are coming in and they’re enjoying it. Obviously out of all the games we played (Limerick) was probably the poorest we’ve been. But that’s irrelevant. I said to the boys you’re going to lose games for the rest of your career, it’s about what you can learn from the defeat that’s the most important thing.

“It’s been good, they’re a great bunch of lads. They’re really unconscientious, really diligent about what they want to do and from my point of view, it’s great that we’re going to have them again next year.

“A lot of the other teams will lose ten and bring in ten but we won’t, we’ll have the majority of this group again next year and from that side of things its good.

“We only have ten games this season so it’s a very short season, we will hope to be back towards the end of January and have a longer season.”

/ 6 Articles

Andrew Horgan

Freelance Sports Reporter.