TOMMY Canning says he was again ready to be ‘The Main One’ after being announced the new manager of Finn Harps under-19s this week.
In recent times the North Tyrone man has been acting as a number two. The former Tyrone Milk Cup boss was assistant to Tony McGinley at Women’s Premiership side Sion Swifts Ladies and in recent weeks has been assisting Eamon Curry as a coach at Northern Ireland Intermediate League outfit Strabane Athletic.
Prior to that Canning had been a first team coach at Harps under Ollie Horgan, a role he took on after being manager of the Finn Park under-19s.
Six years on Canning is ready to pick up that particular baton again and he’s looking forward to being the man calling the shots.
“There is a number of reasons why I took the job,” said the ex-Dergview manager.
“As much as anything else it was an opportunity to become the lead man again. As a number two to Tony I had plenty of scope and freedom in terms of my input but it was time for me to again be the man making the final decisions.
“I wanted that role and was ready to do it again in bringing new ideas and putting my own spin on training and games and all the preparation that goes with it. I have held a long relationship with Harps. I have worked with Ollie (Horgan) and Kevin McHugh, the head of the Harps Academy, and I suppose the other side of it is that they valued me enough to offer me the post. I know the people there, it’s a senior club, what’s not to like.”
As a coach and a manager Canning – who famously masterminded a 2-0 Tyrone victory over Manchester United in the 2012 Milk Cup – has been around the block a few times and is relishing the opportunity to again work with up and coming players.
His brief will include unearthing young talent and assisting them in successfully making the transition from youth football to the senior game.
“Harps have 15s, 17s and 19s all playing in the National League and the standard is good,” he continued.
“I suppose I’ll be preparing boys to play men’s football.
“Having worked with Ollie in the past I know what he expects and what is required to make that transition. It’s not simply down to becoming the age for senior football, there is so more to it than that. You have to be exceptionaly talented and have a hunger to succeed, it’s not an easy transition to make. Harps have always struggled geographically and financially so every lad who graduates from the Academy will be a bonus. There is a bit of a perception out there that Harps don’t give young players the same opportunity as perhaps Derry City do. The stats don’t back that up. Last season Harps had nine under-21s who played for the first team, Derry had 11!”