Competition for places in the centre of Cork City’s midfield is such that manager John Caulfield has the luxury of being able to call on Gavan Holohan to come off the bench, as in the closing stages against BK Häcken in last week’s Europa League second qualifying round second leg.
This week, City are in Belgium to face KRC Genk — they flew from Cork yesterday ahead of tomorrow night’s clash (7pm) — and Holohan is happy to be playing his part in the engine room, even if the added demands of European football mean it’s not easy for subs when they come on.
“I noticed that when I came on the other night,” he says, “the intensity was sky-high so it did take a bit of adjusting, I had to adjust to it as quickly as I could and get into the flow of the game, I think I did okay, to be fair.
“It’s always up to 90 in midfield but we’ve got to deal with it and we’ve got the players to deal with it, the likes of Gearóid [Morrissey], ‘Bucks’ [Garry Buckley] and Greg [Bolger]. They did well in both legs and we’re well capable of dealing with it if it is that kind of game.”
Kilkenny native Holohan would love to be included in the first 11, but he is pragmatic enough to understand why he mightn’t be and knows he can still play a big part.
“It’s obviously difficult to change the team after the winning the tie,” he says.
“I’ll be looking for a starting place but if not I’ll be hoping to have some sort of impact coming off the bench. The main thing is just getting through this round and giving a good account of ourselves.”
It’s the kind of opportunity which playing domestically allows, as former Hull City player Holohan is aware.
“It’s something that you wouldn’t get over in England unless you were playing with one of the top Premier League clubs,” he says.
“I think a lot of people have a bit of negativity about coming back home but for me, the chance to play in these big games is massive. You’re playing in Europe, against top sides. We’ve embraced it with both hands.”
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