AN academy is the bread and butter of most clubs and for Ringmahon Academy Head Coach Paul Higgins, seeing local players progress through the ranks is what the club pride themselves on.
“An academy is the most important pillar in any club and without them the footing is loose underneath,” said Higgins.
“In Ringmahon we pride ourselves in our senior team having locals because as a club we believe you need locals because it brings out the passion in the club.
“However we are now such an attraction and at every level we have players from outside the area but by God when they come in they are treated as one of us.
“Once people put on that jersey they are part of us.
“It’s great to see young lads now starting to come through with juniors and seniors again.
“Let’s hope it continues over next few years.”
Ringmahon’s academy continues to grow year after year. However the club felt a revamp was needed and long-serving club member Higgins was given the task to oversee the running of the academy which currently boasts over 150 kids.
“The Academy started about 20 years ago, set up by a few people who are no longer involved but absolutely part of this historic club and without them we would not be where we are today.
“To mention a few, Mary Browne, mother of Irish international Alan Browne, Donal Cronin, Ger Mullins, Audrey Forde and Michelle O’ Driscoll.
“They were then followed by John Kenny, Kieran Brett and Terry Cummins.
However, a couple of months ago we felt we lost sight of what was our most valuable and important goal in the club, the Academy.
“So I was asked would I be interested in looking at it.
“The chance I needed to dedicate myself to a project of getting Ringmahon back on the map at underage level.
“Albeit we find it tough with the league of Ireland situation, we are constantly losing players mid-season, something I think the FAI have to sort out as it’s unfair on local clubs.
“I’m all for players going to elite level but the clubs need to be compensated.
“At present we have 150 kids in the Academy but this is growing week on week. Thankfully we have some great coaches and volunteers working with the kids.
"William Delaney, Alan Higgins, Linda O’Sullivan, Adam Delurey, Aaron Collins, Adam O’Callaghan, Maria White and Hugh Madden all give up their time willingly.”
Higgins started out as a player with his beloved Ringmahon but at the early of 17, he took up coaching and has since held many other positions at the club.
Higgins says: “I played with the club from the age of five to 16 but being honest I wasn’t very good, so I then took up coaching with Mervyn O’Connor at the age of 17. From there Ger Mullins asked me to join the schoolboy committee.
“I held the secretarial position for two years before taking over schoolboys’ treasurer for a number of years.
“From there I held the treasurer position of the club main accounts for five seasons and through some of the best years in the club’s history.
“During this time I managed numerous teams and players from likes of Alan Browne, John Kavanagh, Eric Grimes to the new crop of talent being produced like Aaron Collins and Ryan Keating.
“The joy you take from bringing players along the road is great.
“As a manager, I won lots of trophies from Premier Leagues to local cups to Division 4 and 5.
“I’ve worked with some unbelievable people - the likes of Kieran O’Reilly, John Kenny, Gavin Crean to Jim Radford and Trevor Hayes. They are unsung heroes who do a lot of unnoticed work with B teams in a club.
“My role has now changed and gone full circle in the last 12 months as I now oversee the Academy and I am thoroughly enjoying it. A position I will give 100% to over the next couple of seasons.
“Without doubt, that job is made easier because I have three kids in the Academy so the wife has gotten roped in also to do sign-ins on a Monday night so Monday is like our family day now. The place is buzzing as a result of this.
“All this great work has been put to fruition by a group that just wanted a change in direction a couple of months ago.
“We have some great plans for the club and the main aim for us is to produce players as best we can which we have done a good job of doing over the past number of years.
We have had over 30 internationals of the past 20 years at all ages. We will look to appoint a Director of Coaching in September to bring our academy to the next level.
“Our academy committee are a great bunch.
“Along with myself it consists of Siobhan Delurey, Laura O’Sullivan, Maria White, William and Johnny Delany, Aidan Foley, Katie Carroll, Phily Keane and Alan Cooper. We as a club are appreciative of all their work and we look forward to progressing as a club.”
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