Ethan McCarthy- NEXT GEN SERIES INTERVIEW by Dylan O’Connell

Rugby stronghold Christian Brothers College is not where one would expect to kickstart their coaching career in football, but for Ethan McCarthy it was ideal.

After stepping into coaching football in Transition Year, he is now looking forward to a new opportunity which has arisen just this week in the Munster Senior League Premier Division after spending years working in the u17 and u19 League of Ireland.

Ethan: “At the time when I was playing, soccer was only available to Transition Year students in CBC” McCarthy told Pro-Scout 3.

Ethan: “After an enjoyable and memorable year playing, I wanted to stay involved in some capacity. I asked the teacher in charge of soccer, Stephen Hogan, if I could help out. He was delighted that my good friend Tim Mawe and I offered to assist him.”

Ethan: “Stephen advised us to start completing some of our coaching badges, so at age 17 years, I completed the Kick Start Levels 1 and 2.”

Ethan: “I stayed at the school for ten years as a coach. During my first season we had great successes in reaching a Munster semi final and winning the Cork Cup in Turners Cross at U17 level. My involvement led to an expansion of teams within the college and the establishment of the CBC Academy. We entered competitions across 3 age groups, First Year, U15 and U17, winning a further 4 Cork Cups , reaching another 7 finals and reaching 3 Munster Finals.”

Ethan: “Tim was, at the time, also involved with Carrigaline United and he suggested that the both of us take over the u13B team.

Ethan: “We were only 17 at the time and we got involved with a number of different levels and age groups at the club. My biggest success during my time at the club was the u16 Premier League and Local Cup double, going the full season undefeated.”

Ethan: “I also enjoyed success at senior level, in a small role that I had in helping the seniors achieve promotion, under former Cork City captain; Greg O Halloran as manager and assistant manager; Paddy O Keeffe, while also winning the Beamish Stout Senior Cup.”

During this time at Carrigaline, McCarthy continued his coach education by completing his FAI Youth Cert and UEFA B Licence.

He stepped into the League of Ireland in 2015, working with the Cobh Ramblers u17 team. That year, the Rams narrowly missed out on the league plays offs on goal difference to Shamrock Rovers. There was consolidation though, as the club went on to win the National Shield.

After a few months in Cobh, McCarthy moved to the USA to coach with The Football Factory (TFF), an indoor soccer turf facility located in Bergen County, New Jersey. In 2017 he returned home to take over Rambler’s Under 19 side and later coached in the Munster Senior League with St Mary’s with the club having aspirations of pushing for success. They achieved their objectives by winning the First Division and gaining promotion back to the top tier.

Ethan: “Even though I have gained a great deal of experience and had fantastic successes throughout my career, I am still a relatively young coach,” he said.

Ethan: “My aim would be to keep learning and improving as a coach, to learn from my mistakes and keep to trying to gain more and more experience. I am really enjoying working at Munster Senior League level, and I have aspirations to continue working within the league with future successes.”

Ethan: “Nowadays, there is a huge emphasis placed on the development of young players and this is seen as being the only important philosophy for coaches. Development is vital for tactical and technical improvement of players for sure but, personally speaking, while the development of a group of players is important, I also feel that a coach or players determination to win is vital for success, once you reach a certain level.”

Ethan: “If you go to watch a match or training session at any level, whether it is academy football or senior football there is a competitive edge in everyone. It’s just natural for everyone in our sport to be competitive and its a massive part of the game. Player development and welfare is most important as they start on their journey but as they progress on their journey, the competitive edge also has to be an integral part of the player’s mindset . A winning mentality helps you to win games and as a result trophies.”

Ethan: “In any team I have coached or managed in my career, I have always instilled in them a desire to win and be the best they can be in everything we do. From the competitive games at the weekend, to 5 a sides or running sessions in training, the aim has to be to be the best and to win.”

Ethan: “In underage football you have to create a culture where players feel it is not only important to develop both technically and tactically but also to win and get results. Yes of course development of young players is very important but players have to understand that getting a positive result in game is important. There is already a massive step up from underage to senior football and I think, if we were to remove the winning mentality within young players, it will only widen this gap further. You can have all the ability in the world but at senior level, it is a results game and players making the step up for the first time must understand that.”

Ethan: “These days you also often see players looking for excuses when not getting into a team, blaming managers, coaches or fellow team mates, looking outward instead of inward for that excuse. Personally I feel a players self reflection is the most important thing. If the player isn’t getting into the team, he has to be looking at himself first. Is he doing enough in training and in games to deserve a starting place but also what are the player’s habits while away from football? In order for a player to get to the highest level he has look after himself and be prepared to make the scarifies away from football.”

McCarthy’s winning drive has certainly paid off at every level and at every club McCarthy has been involved with.

He attributes this resurgence from the club to his raw passion on the sidelines and his close relationship with his squad.

Ethan: “There is a perception that I come across as a bit controversial in my manner in training and on the sideline in games but I think a big part of being a coach is showing passion. Three of the best managers I’ve watched over recent years; John Caulfield, John Ryan and Billy Cronin, each of them may come across as a bit mad, but for me it’s pure passion for their team and a desire to win. You can see why they have enjoyed so much success over recent times, brining that infectious energy on the sideline.”

“A big part of my philosophy is the importance of having a good relationship with the players. Throughout my career I’ve always being determined to create a close relationship between the players and I feel this is reflected in the players performance on the pitch.”

Ethan: “I can think of many players I have coached over the years who would run through walls for me because of the relationships we have had. Again some people out there may think that I’m too close to the players, and I have often been told that I should take a more stand offish approach. I always listen to advice and took some of these reflections on board when I joined Mayfield United.”

Ethan: “As I now have time to reflect on this, during Covid 19, I am adamant that I will not adapt this approach going forward. I feel it didn’t work this year. My stand off approach affected my passion, it affected the connection I had with the players. I didn’t get to know them or develop any relationship or understanding about what drives them. My player management skills were impacted and as a result the commitment may not have been there. An integral part of who I am and how I approach coaching is how I interact with the players. This has also contributed to the success I have had during my career to date.

Ethan: “Over the last few years I have developed a good player profile through my involvement in the Munster Senior League. I honestly believe that there are many players within this league who are more than capable of playing at a higher level, in the League of Ireland.”

Ethan: “For the moment I want to continue building my player profiles and I would relish the chance to test myself as a League of Ireland manager, in the future, and give some of the outstanding talent that I see on a weekly basis in the Munster Senior League the opportunity to shine on a bigger stage. I would hope that my insight into these players would help me convince them to work again with me on the League of Ireland stage.”

McCarthty also told Pro-Scout about working through the shutdown on football activities and the work he is doing for the restart.

Ethan: “To be the honest, I enjoyed the break at the start of the lockdown as I was fairly drained from the intensity of it all. When involved in coaching, at whatever level, you have to always give 100%. Players are wise to when you are not engaged or committed or if you have lost your drive, your passion. Covid 19 has afforded me the opportunity to recharge, rethink and refocus. I have spent a lot of the time reading various books and articles and this new learning about all aspects of the game has reenergised me.”

Ethan: “I cannot wait for the restrictions to be lifted so that I can go out and use this new knowledge to help me improve, to help my players improve, to help my club achieve its obvious potential. My learning is currently focused on the Bundesliga which had reignited my passion while away from the game.”