Wexford centre-back Owen McCormack has just turned 19. However the Kilkenny man speaks with insight and intelligence. None of this undermines a hunger to succeed in the game.
Here he speaks to Brian Strahan about Wexford FC’s adaptability, his own future in the game and of his gratitude to the people who have created this opportunity for him to experience first team football.
Brian Strahan: How long have you been with Wexford?
Owen McCormack: This is my second season at Wexford, still Under-19 this year.
BS: So is that the Southern Elite Division you are playing in?
OMC: Yeah we are, but I’m playing first team so won’t get to play with the 19’s this year.
BS: How are you finding the step up to the first team?
OMC: I’m loving every minute of playing with the first team. It’s a massive step up from the 19’s and it takes a couple of weeks to adapt to the different game speed. I was called into play with the first-team half-way through the season last year, and played a total of six times. I really just hope I can build on that this year, and become a regular in the side. I have to say a big thanks to Shane [Keegan], last year’s manager and Damo [Damian Locke], this year’s manager, who put a lot of belief in me in the last two years and I just hope I can repay their trust this year.
BS: Are you from Wexford yourself?
OMC: No, I’m from Kilkenny?
BS: How did joining Wexford come about?
OMC: I was playing with Waterford United the season before, but the Under-19’s manager last year Billy Molloy, told me there was a big chance for me to break into the first team if I signed. so I took the gamble and it seems to be finally paying off.
BS: It was a long build up to the Cobh game. Must be good to have that out of the way?
OMC: Yeah it’s been a long wait but we needed a good pre-season. Jason Ryan came in to do fitness which was a massive help – he’s an expert at what he does and improved the whole squad. Also the friendly we played, we needed badly, because we had lots of new players and we needed time to get used to playing with each other, before the season kicked off.
BS: Can you feel things beginning to click as a team?
OMC: Yeah, I think they team is clicking very well. I think this year we will be set up as a side very hard to beat. There are many younger lads in the squad, but also it’s mixed with some experienced players who have been around the League of Ireland many years, who are a massive help to the younger lads coming through.
BS: Is there a real hope that you will win promotion, despite being harder than normal, with only one team going up?
OMC: Look obviously everyone’s ambition at the start of season is to win the league. There are clubs around us who pumped a lot of money into their squad, but at the same time we signed some quality players, so I really don’t see why that couldn’t be us getting promotion.
BS: In a way is the pressure off because everyone knows for this season it’s going to be harder than any other?
OMC: It is and it is isn’t, because obviously from the outside, judging by the odds people aren’t expecting much from us this season. But each and every one of us in the dressing know what to expect from each other, and with the talent we have in the dressing room there is no reason why we can’t be that team getting promoted.
BS: How would you describe Wexford’s style of play?
OMC: We don’t have one set style of play because many of the teams around us having different types of playing styles; so we have to adapt to them and set up a shape that we think will break down the opposition.
BS: Is it difficult to adapt to different styles?
OMC: No it’s actually very easy. We go through it the week before our two training sessions on the tactics bored or the iPad, and then we go and set it up in training so we know what to do and we are well drilled for match day.
BS: What do you see down the road for Owen McCormack?
OMC: I’d hope to hopefully have a successful career in the League of Ireland or England if that chance came and get back into the Ireland team.
BS: Do you feel pressure to reach expectations?
OMC: No not at all! I’ve a had a few offers from colleges in America to go on scholarships, but right now I’m enjoying my football, and I believe if I stay enjoying my football these things will fall into place.
BS: Would America tempt you?
OMC: Obviously it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity, but I’ve my girlfriend and young brothers and sisters at home, so I’m happy where I am at the moment, because there are opportunities here, and Ryan Delaney who played with Wexford last season is a prime example of that.
BS: Are you in touch?
OMC: Yeah I would talk to Ryan, he’s a very good lad. I played with Ryan on the South-East team a couple of years ago, he’s back on loan with Cork City now, and is starting centre back and doing very well. So I could learn a lot from Ryan, and if any young lad coming through needed advice Ryan would be the man to talk to. He’s worked very hard the last few years and got the rewards for it, and he is one of the most genuine people around.
BS: Hard work really is a big part of making it, isn’t it? Hard work, right attitude, hunger.
OMC: Yeah, it’s massive. I think that’s why we will do very well this season as a team, because all of us work very hard for each other. There is no one in the club that thinks they’re bigger than the team. With hunger, you either have it or you don’t, and it’s clear to see lads that don’t have it. From the Cobh game alone I think we showed a lot of hunger, and fight throughout the whole team.
BS: Where does your hunger stem from?
OMC: Just always came naturally to me. My whole family are very competitive but my dad always pushed me in everything I’ve done, so he’s probably where I get it from.
BS: He probably saw you had a talent or potential, or both?
OMC: Maybe, just runs in my family to be honest.