Post Final Thoughts with Mick Cooke

November 7, 2018

After a five-year wait for a return to the good times had ended on Saturday and the media circus had been satisfied, Mick Cooke, Dermot McKenna, Robbie Horgan and Damien Kavanagh were all that remained in the dressing room, along with an air of satisfaction at what had been achieved.

For Mick Cooke to do what he has done in the 18 months since he took the reins at Drogheda United was nothing short of miraculous, and it’s not over yet. Speaking in the quiet and solitude of the dressing room the manager was keen to point out that this is the just rewards for all the work put in by the players since back in January.

“The lads have deserved some reward for the effort they have put in all season, since we came back in early January for pre-season training, organised with Danny Miller, Robbie Horgan and Gerry Kelly, from the pitch to the gym to the beach. I think their reward was won tonight.”

“How hard we’ve trained and how hard we have worked to get where we are and I think tonight’s performance was the best of the season. The media were worried about us tonight after what happened on Monday, but they were more worried that I was,” he added.

Drogheda United’s success this season is not only on the superficial level, it goes much deeper than the 11 in claret and blue who take to the pitch week in and week out and Cooke has said that the support he received from day one has lead to this.

“I think there’s a great support for me throughout everything, not only from Jim Agnew and the board members who saved the club last year but right down to Bridie, who was there when I was a player, and that was in the black and white days. But now we have a team of people behind the team who have kept the club afloat.”

However he did have one special mention for everyone’s favourite Garda, “I have to give a special mention to my personal minder, Demot McKenna, who plays an unbelievable role behind the scenes with what he does for the players and what he does for the club.

“His dad was here as physio for many years and he’s carrying the tradition on, but I don’t think he’s as good as his dad and his hands aren’t as good as his dad’s,” he laughed.

But behind it all, there is a vision for this club and something which Cooke is proud to be part of.

“What people forget is that this is a family club and that they had great days in the million pound drop when every club had a million pound, but I think to achieve what we have achieved over the last 18 months is incredible.”

I know the club is going forward on a sound footing and that’s what I wanted to be part of. I didn’t want to be part of something that would be for one season and then only to be worried about the next season.”

And it’s not just the backroom team that Cooke had praise for. At the final, which was supposed to be a Rovers home game, the level of Drogheda support which turned up was incredible and made it feel like the Boynesiders were back in Hunky Dorys Park. Cooke spoke about how he felt he had the fans backing from day one.

“Well I think from the minute that I took over the club, the supporters recognised that they got someone who would work with integrity and honesty and that I would bring in a group of players who would do the same. They have supported me from day one and, not only that, I think this year the away support has been fantastic.”

And on a personal note, this was the former Monaghan United manager’s first ever senior cup win and something he is tremendously proud of, and he was aided by the fact that he kept his wife away.

“My wife has never seen me win in my managerial career, so she was kept well away from this,” he laughed. But he sombered up when he spoke about the support he has received from his family throughout his time at Monaghan and now at Drogheda.

“Obviously it’s my first senior trophy. As a player I played in six finals and lost in five, so it’s been a long time coming. I lost it two years ago up in Sligo, but it’s a great achievement for me personally and for my family who have backed me through thick and thin. My two boys were here to see it, and that was just fantastic for me to have them here.”

So what’s next for the Boynesiders on their journey back to big time success?

“We are already planning for next year and and we’ve qualified for the Setanta Cup. I hope we achieve European qualification on our own back, because it’s nothing less than those players deserve,” concluded a very proud and very happy Drogheda United legend.