Roddy Collins to lead Mons in crucial season

11 March 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan United take on Waterford United at Gortakeegan tomorrow, Friday night with a high-profile new manager in Roddy Collins at the helm and their promotion ambitions sharpened to a razor edge by the cruel disappointments experienced in the season just past, and the rather bizarre prelude to the current campaign.
The Mons’ opening game in the 2011 Airtricity League First Division pits them against one of the strongest sides in the second tier of senior Irish football, and should act as an accurate early barometer of United’s capability to fulfill the ambition inherent in the combative “In It To Win It” slogan adopted by their official Supporters’ Club in the aftermath of the club being denied Premier Division status when Galway United’s appeal against demotion was upheld.
And interest in the fixture is likely to be heightened by the announcement by the club yesterday that they had appointed Roddy Collins as successor to Mick Cooke, who has departed the Gortakeegan precincts after eight years at the helm to take over Premier side Drogheda United.
The charismatic Collins has long been one of the most recognizable figures on the Irish soccer scene, his profile reinforced of late by his contributions as a pundit on Monday Night Soccer and other RTE sports programmes.
But his managerial CV is extensive, and contains one compelling testament to his motivational capacities. He led Bohemians to a double in 2001, the first time the famous Dublin club had achieved the feat in 75 years. In 96 league matches at the Bohs’ helm, Collins won 46, drew 23 and lost 27 – and the side kept 41 clean sheets.
Somewhat controversially replaced by Pete Mahon in the aftermath of the double triumph, Collins migrated to the English League ranks where he took charge of Carlisle United.
He returned to Irish football for a brief dalliance with Dublin City before taking charge of Shamrock Rovers, but couldn’t rediscover the magic managerial touch that had transformed Bohemians.
Collins left management for a time to establish a powerful profile for himself as a media commentator in both the written and broadcast sports press.
His return to the dugout was against the exotic background of Malta, where he became manager of Floriana FC in June 2009. After a mixed bag of results he came back to Ireland in December to take charge of Cork City but financial problems at the club meant that he never got to manage a single competitive game for them.
Although it is Collins the pundit that will dominate the image most Monaghan United fans will have of their new manager, Irish football followers of a certain vintage will remember him vividly as the powerhouse striker who in his playing days was a major force for Shamrock Rovers, being top scorer for the club in their 1988-89 season after being signed by Noel King. Collins also played for Dundalk, Sligo Rovers and St Francis in the League of Ireland, and had an extensive career up North, wearing the colours of Crusaders, Glentoran, Bangor, Cliftonville and Larne at various times.
Aidan Lynch, who had taken the Mons’ reins on a temporary basis when Mick Cooke departed, will serve as Collins’ assistant.

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