Kieran O’Reilly's new role developing best young soccer players in Cork

Monday night sessions with U13s will help develop their tactical and game intelligence
Kieran O’Reilly's new role developing best young soccer players in Cork

Kieran O'Reilly, former Ringmahon Rangers manager, has taken up a role with the FAI. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

FORMER Cobh Ramblers player Kieran O’Reilly is looking forward to his next step in coaching, after becoming part of Stephen O’Mahony’s coaching staff in the FAI’s centre of excellence.

O’Reilly, who had been managing the Ringmahon men’s senior team, has had to step back from the role because of work commitments but is excited by the prospect of helping O’Mahony develop young players.

“I started a new job with Thermo Fisher Scientific Pharmaceutical back in April and with my change in hours, it wasn’t feasible for me to continue as Ringmahon manager.

“I really enjoyed my time as manager and it’s just a pity that we couldn’t complete the season,” O’Reilly said.

“I loved the coaching side of management, so, I was thrilled when Stephen O’Mahony contacted me, wondering would I be interested in working alongside him with the centre of excellence.

“Stephen will be the head coach. I will be helping him with the coaching.

It will be once a week and we will be working with U13 players. We’ve been given a list of around 22 players, that we will be working with for the foreseeable future.

“Stephen would have already identified the players. He would have seen a lot of games last year and he will know most of the players.

“Some of the players have come on recommendations from the clubs. Others would have been recommended by coaches from around the leagues.

“We could have those players for a couple of months, but in the meantime, we will get around to games. We will be watching games to see are there players that have not been brought into the Centre of Excellence yet.

“If there are players we think should be in it, then they will be highlighted, and we will be inviting them into the Centre of Excellence.


“The players aren’t affiliated with any League of Ireland clubs. They will be with the domestic clubs in Cork.

“We will get them in on a Monday night. The coaching will be at a high level. It won’t be a normal club season, where the lads might go in and do the fitness side of things.

“It will be more a case of polishing up. Getting game intelligence into players. Trying to give them as much information as you can, to develop into better players. 

The aim is moving forward that we can try and make them better players for whatever future they have in the game.

“Whether that is in the League of Ireland, playing abroad, or international level. The Centre of Excellence is not about showboating players to potential suitors. It’s about developing the players and making them better.”

O’Reilly credits O’Mahony for playing a huge role in his career. He feels that the knowledge and the time O’Mahony dedicates to studying the game is what makes him such a great coach and is looking forward to working alongside him.

“The Centre of Excellence has been running for a while. I’ve only been asked this year by Stephen to get involved, which suited me.

“With leaving Ringmahon because of my new job, it’s great to stay involved in the game. I played under Stephen. He was there when I first kicked off my footballing career from Ringmahon to Cobh Ramblers.

“For me personally, Stephen is one of the best coaches around for schoolboy development. Stephen could be at nearly four games a day, on a weekend.

“His attention to detail of players, and what level they are at, is at a very high level. To be able to learn from him is a great opportunity.

“No one knows everything in the game, it’s always a case of a learning curve. So, I’m really looking forward to it.”


Developing players at a younger age has become more of a priority for the FAI in recent years.

With the Irish national team struggling recently, and Brexit, O’Reilly thinks that making sure young Irish players have the best coaching available to help them fulfil their potential is the correct way to produce the best players.

“Focusing on developing players at grassroots level is probably the best way to get a hold of young lads.

“Kids are sponges. Whatever information you give them, they soak in. Kids gather information a lot quicker when they are younger.

“It’s clever thinking from the FAI. They have been looking across Europe and saw how young kids are going into academies there.

“I suppose, we want to develop the best players in the country who will go on to represent the country.

“With Brexit, it means that players won’t be allowed to go the UK until they turn 18.

“A lot of people will have different opinions on that. There are pros and cons to it. I’ve been in a position where Adam [O’Reilly’s son] went over to England to join Preston when he was very young.

My own opinion is that 18 is a good age to be going across to the UK. You’re grounded. You’d have gained a bit of experience in life.

“They are better prepared to compete, rather than when they are younger. It’s a massive network they are going into. When players are going across at only 14 or 15, that is a very young age. They are still only kids. Will it work? Who knows.”

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