Cork City 3 -
Waterford FC 0
Waterford’s new assistant manager Noel Hunt before Friday night’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division clash with Cork City at Turner’s Cross. Photo: Inpho.
Noel Hunt has made a return to Waterford after a 16-year absence after the St. John’s Park native was unveiled by Waterford FC as a new player/assistant manager in a media briefing at the glorious RSC ahead of the Blues trip to take on Cork City at Turners Cross on Friday last.
The striker will become eligible to play for the club once the transfer window opens on July 1 but for now will act as an assistant manager to Blues boss Alan Reynolds, who continues to recover from an assault that is set to rule him for a couple of weeks.
Hunt was offered a 12-month contract with Wigan Athletic ahead of the 2018-19 season after making 13 appearances for the League One Champions last season but instead will join the Blues on a 18-month contract where he’ll kickstart his coaching career.
Speaking to the Waterford News & Star on his return to Waterford, Hunt said, “It’s a different chapter in my career and it’s an exciting one for me. I’m looking forward to the next four or five weeks of getting to know the boys before going from there and playing.
“I have been chatting back and forward for the past month or so where I was looking for different options for myself. I think that’s the right path for me and we still have a couple of things to get across the water but for me, I feel that this move is the next progression for me and the next step.
“I have enjoyed the side of doing my coaching badges in England in the last few years and thank God that all that side of it is away. I got it into it about eight or nine years ago with Brendan Rodgers, who is Celtic manager and the late Eamon Dolan, who was with Reading FC.
HUNGER AND DESIRE
“Since then I suppose I’ve had a hunger for it and a desire for that side of the game. I find it interesting and I think from my point of view at this stage, it’s the way forward.
“I don’t think that the circumstances of the past week hasn’t helped with what has happened the manager but whatever way it has fallen about, it is what it is. I have been here a week now and the stuff that I’ve seen and learnt is great.
Hunt has admitted that he has been impressed in what he has seen to date. “Absolutely. I was in quite early with Fran (Rockett) and the music is buzzing in the dressing room. We’ve got a group of players that are all enjoying themselves. It’s a big thing to see and it’s a big thing to have in the dressing room. They are all so very close.
“I have looked at the progress of the club in the last two years and that’s something that has played a big part in me coming home. The club has been flying and that’s big credit to the staff and the manager. Franny and Paul are here, and they’ve built a big ethos, a great learning environment and that’s massive for success. If we can continue to push that on and keep that going, it’s the big thing.
“I don’t think that getting into European football is going to be handed to us that’s for sure. We’ll take it as one game at a time and we’ll see where it takes us. We have a few important games going forward and they are going to be crucial for us.”
“I’m hoping to hit the ground running with the club and if I didn’t think that I don’t think I would be here to be honest. We’ve got the positive and we’ve got a great start to the season. The boys have been flying and it’s not about changing things now because it’s a case of what’s not broke don’t fix it. It’s about keeping the boys going and make sure that they are ready tonight which they will be.
“It’s brilliant for me because I come from Waterford, so I know a lot more about it. The history books tell you how big this football club once was and whose to say that can’t happen again. It’s one step at a time thought. The facilities are always improving, everyone is trying to make things better all the time and that’s shows a good holding for the future.
“It’s funny how football goes because I signed for Shamrock Rovers before I was here for nine games but I’m from here, I’ve got some great family and friends here and it’s lovely to see everyone. It’s going to be a new challenge but it’s one that I’m relishing.”