Cooke has his season prepared
Monaghan boss says he's ready to serve up Premier football
BACK IN the top flight for the first time in a decade, Monaghan United insist that they will be able to compete in the Premier Division of the League of Ireland this season.
And United manager Mick Cooke has already made one promise -- that the Ulster club will do their business properly and won't be dragged into the financial chaos which has killed off so many clubs in recent seasons.
Monaghan haven't played in the Premier Division since they finished bottom in the 2001/02 season with an astonishing goal difference of minus 66, and when they lost to Bray Wanderers in a promotion/relegation play-off at the end of last season it looked as if they were in line for a 10th successive season in Division One.
But yesterday's conformation by the FAI that Galway United had been denied a club licence for 2011 -- effectively kicked out of the league after 34 years -- means that Monaghan will take Galway's place in the Premier Division.
"We will be ready for the start of the new season and we will be able to compete, I have no doubt about that," says Cooke, the longest-serving manager in the league who is now in his seventh season at Monaghan.
"I have been preparing for the season on the basis that we might get into the Premier, I was signing players on that basis, and I have more players to bring in, I want to add four more players who can help us do well in the Premier next season.
"We signed players who have Premier Division experience, like Dave Rogers, Shane Barrett, Fabio O'Brien and Ryan Brennan, and I hope to sign a few more this week, depending on who is still available," added Cooke.
The image of the LOI in the public eye has taken a hammering since the end of last season: we had Bohemians threatened with a winding-up order over unpaid player wages, the Gypsies surviving thanks to a fundraising effort which concluded with a special charity gig in the Olympia next Saturday; the collapse of Sporting Fingal, who were due to represent Ireland in the Europa League next summer; and now the possible exit from senior football of Galway United, an outfit who were being held up by the FAI as a model club only three years ago.
But Cooke insists that Monaghan will continue with their policy of doing things the right way. "I have been there for seven years and I don't think we have had a single problem in relation to wages or players," he says.
"We might not pay massive wages but players get paid what they are owed and are well looked after."