League hopes and a chance to take on some of Europe’s best are the dreams now within Gavan Holohan’s reach.
The Kilkennyman will be chasing glory on several fronts next season after enlisting in Cork City’s Rebel Army.
The 2014 Airtricity League season may have just ended but Holohan, who spent the last 18 months with Drogheda United, has already been snapped up Turners Cross boss John Caulfield.
“Once I found out Cork were interested I knew they would be hard to turn down,” said Holohan.
“Given the season they’ve had, the history of the club and the fact they’ll be playing European football next season - which is a big pull - there was only place I was going to sign.”
City moved fast to sign Holohan, who attracted the attention of several Premier Division sides.
“There was no rest after the 2014 season ended - other clubs were straight in as they wanted to get things in order for the 2015 season,” he said.
“I met Keith Long (Bohemians manager)and spoke to Damien Richardson at Drogheda about re-signing again, then I got a call from Owen Heary (the new Sligo Rovers boss) and met with John Caulfield from Cork City.
“It’s been busy since the season ended, but clubs want to get their business done as soon as possible.”
Holohan has enjoyed his time with Drogheda, and was quick to praise the league.
“The Airtricity League gets a bit of bad press, but I don’t think people realise the standards of the teams and players are quite high,” he said. It really took me by surprise when I signed for Drogheda - I came in mid-season under Mick Cooke at a time when the team was competing for a lot of trophies. We had such a strong team it was hard to break into the team. I had to adapt to the team and the League.
“I was in and out of the team at the early part of the season, which was disappointing, but once Damien Richardson and Darius Kearns took over in July they gave me the confidence and belief to play a big part,” he said. “Since then my form improved and I chipped in with a few goals, which is something I’ll be looking to bring to Cork. Scoring goals from midfield is important in today’s game.”
Leaving the Drogs was a wrench, but the club didn’t stand in his way.
“It was tough leaving as I felt at home there, especially after establishing myself in the team this year,” he said. “I really enjoyed my time up there; it’s a great club, but the manager understood that Cork City were providing an opportunity that was too good to pass up on.”
Holohan, who netted five league goals in the latter stages of the season, is confident his game will prosper in Cork.
“One of the things the manager (John Caulfield) stressed was that they were short of attacking midfielders, so that’s why he wanted to get me signed,” he said. “The crowd will be another draw. Cork play in front of packed houses. Having played there with Drogheda I know it’s a fortress - on a good night they can get about 5,000 but it feels like 15,000 with the atmosphere they create! Those are the crowds and fans you want to play for.”
With preseason starting in January, and the new season kicking-off in Spring, there won’t be much time for Holohan to relax. Having gone so close to taking the crown in 2014, Cork will be gunning to win the League next year as well as giving their best in Europe. It’s a lot of pressure, but Holohan is looking forward to it.
“You want to play for titles and cups,” he said. “You want to push yourself and play in those teams. I thought Cork were desperately unlucky not to win the League, especially after pushing Dundalk so close.
“I hope I can help them go one step further in 2015,” he added. “I’m relishing the challenge.”