BIG NEWS Well-known ex-League of Ireland manager Roddy Collins has been training Achill Rovers recently. Pic: Sportsfile
WITH Achill Rovers struggling to find a new manager for the new season, it was their good fortune that a former League of Ireland winning boss just happened to be on holidays on the island recently.
Former Bohemians, Carlisle Utd and Cork City manager, Roddy Collins has been taking training with Achill Rovers for the last three weeks but the club have quashed rumours that he is to be on the sideline for their opening Premier Cup game away to Crossmolina next Saturday evening.
Collins, who is the brother of former world boxing champion, Steve Collins, and who managed Bohemians to a League of Ireland title, is a friend of Achill Rovers club official, Tony Grealis, and agreed to take training twice a week on a temporary basis.
Achill Rovers have endured a couple of turbulent seasons and now find themselves in the third tier of the Mayo league having played in the Super League for one season in 2017.
Defender Cory Kilbane is one of the survivors of that season and, although only 24, the Saula man is heading into his seventh campaign and is regarded as one of the veterans of the side.
He told The Mayo News that not having a new manager ahead of the new season is not ideal, but Roddy Collins’ presence has ensured a renewed interest in the team.
“It was a great surprise to everyone when it came up in the Whats App group that Roddy Collins was coming down to training,” he explained. “It’s brilliant to have him because anyone who was half on the fence about playing soccer for the year has been drawn in to play by having Roddy around.
“It’s great for young lads to learn from someone who has coached at a high level in the professional game. He’s very ‘hands on’ and training is intense but enjoyable and you can only improve, even if he is only here for a short time. We are very lucky, he must have heard great things about us,” he laughed.
Last season the Mayo League season was suspended in October before it was eventually cancelled.
With more Achill people returning home during last summer’s lockdown, Cory Kilbane said putting the season on hold was unfortunate as Rovers never had as many players available to play.
“I know one night we had 26 at training and in those situations we can get eleven-a-side games which you rarely get in Achill with lads normally away,” he said. “It gave us a great sense of the potential we have if lads were able to stay around and did not have to leave for work.”
Kilbane, a Masters student at Queens University in Belfast, said that lockdown showed how much the squad missed playing for Rovers and cannot wait for the season to start. While promotion is an objective, he knows it’s likely to be a difficulty season for Achill and a good start will be crucial.
“The main hope is to have a solid season. It’s more about getting game-time and experience for the young players coming through because we lost a couple of experienced players and they are not easy to replace.
“It will be a case of taking it game by game and seeing where we are coming into the last stretch of the season. If we find some early form that will be the key to whether we can put in a push for promotion.
“If we are in touch of promotion at the end of the season, we will be ready to fight for it.”