Resilient Ricken willing to do his level best for the Rebels

Proven coach proud to serve Cork football in whatever capacity fits the bill

Keith Ricken: ‘I love Cork football and I’m always committed to Cork football.’ Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Keith Ricken: ‘I love Cork football and I’m always committed to Cork football.’ Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

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Keith Ricken contemplates his first season with the Cork seniors as if the whole process of his appointment has been slightly random rather than based on his achievements in third-level and underage football.

“I love Cork football and I’m always committed to Cork football but if I thought the best place for me with Cork football was down in a divisional under-15 team somewhere, I would have gone there.

“I felt my skillset was probably needed here. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here. I’m living in a three-bed semi-detached house with still a big mortgage hanging over my head, two kids and a lot of other stuff on in my life.

“This is not a job, as people talk about it; there’s no f****** money in it, there’s no anything in it. It’s 50 to 60 hours a week on top of your own job. I’m very lucky to have good support by my colleagues and good support at home obviously and I’m giving my 100pc for as long as it takes until I feel my bit is done here or I can’t bring it any further.”

So, is he surprised to find himself guiding the county, as it tries to recover its old position as one of the top football counties and a genuine challenge to neighbours, Kerry?

“I’m surprised I’m alive at 52 years of age, to be truthful with you. I’d a couple of near-death experiences and everything else and my life has gone 100 different ways and I’ve done loads of different things.

“So, there’s nothing that doesn’t surprise me. I’m surprised every morning, and I’m grateful every morning I get up that when I turn on the tap, water comes out of it. There are people all over the world who haven’t got that luxury.

“So, nothing surprises me. I take nothing for granted. If I commit to something, I commit to something.”

Kerry gave Cork another thumping last weekend in the McGrath Cup final. Ricken draws attention to the difference in the respective players’ physique on the two teams as evidence of ground that Cork have to cover.

He is wary of prescribing targets and ambitions although the obvious one for a team in Division Two is promotion.

“We might be hitting walls and we might find it difficult and we’re going up against a lot of very experienced Division Two teams . . . who jumped between Division One and Division Two over the last couple of years. So I’m hoping that they would learn from that each time.”

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