MANY players who finish up playing sport seek a pathway to stay involved.
For one particular guy, although he came from a sporting family background, when he hung up his boots he didn’t miss it and didn't consider any further involvement. But watching one game was enough for him to see the passion from one of his close friends on the sideline which led to him to believe he could share the same passion and make a difference to a team.
Stephen Dunclffe (39) from Spur Hill has begun his first coaching role as assistant manager to Paul McCarthy at Richmond, and although only two weeks into the season, he is living the experience and already hooked.
“After a great pre-season and two successful games to begin the season, it’s been a great start to my coaching career,” said Duncliffe.
The father of one to seven-year-old Hannah began his football days playing for Wilton United before moving onto Everton where he eventually hung up how boots and it was at both clubs where his love for the game grew and here he tells us about his journey to becoming a coach.
“I started playing with Wilton United U10 with Pat Bowdren and I couldn’t have asked for a better coach to teach me everything about the game. I then joined Everton youths and had a brilliant youth, junior and senior career with them mostly junior but with some great managers along the way in Noel 'Rocky' O'Sullivan, Marty Regan, Richie 'The King' O'Brien, Tommy Corcoran and big Tony Power to name a few, all great footballing men and people I learned a lot from."
His grandfather Roger 'Rogie' Ahern played for Cork Athletic and won an FAI Junior Cup with Rock Rovers.
"Maybe I got my football ability from him? My dad Michael played rugby and he also boxed for Fr Horgan's but if he had a ball at his foot he'd call himself Micky van Basten or if he had a racket in his hand he would call himself Micky McEnroe, so I guess he'd tell you he's an all-rounder.
"My brother Roger was a runner, my brother Marc was a boxer while my sister swam at a high level so sport definitely ran through the family with my mum Rita always being a huge support.”
When injuries took their toll on Duncliffe, he decided to hang up his boots, and only by chance did he decide to take up coaching and now finds himself assistant manager at AUL side Richmond.
"This is my first season involved with Richmond and my first venture into the coaching side of the game. I got involved in pre-season this year after a text from my old friend and mentor (he asked me to call him that!), Richmond manager Paul McCarthy.
“As assistant manager, my aims for the season are to learn as much as I can, as I said it's my first venture into coaching so I will take everything on board. I would like to think I have a good level of knowledge about the game but time will tell. I do have a lot of friends in football and I have reached out to Joe Gamble, Liam Kearney, Kev Ronayne and my sister's boyfriend Cory Galvin and all four have been very helpful.”
Richmond was formed back in 1980 by the current chairman Gussy O'Shea who does Trojan work for the club. Players of note to have played with Richmond are Alan Bennett who had a fantastic career both in Ireland and England and Eoghan Lougheed who played for Cork City and has graced the MSL league and still currently playing with Avondale.
This season they will compete in the AUL Division 2 and Duncliffe is confident his side can compete for honours.
“We have a good bunch of decent honest lads. We have four players in our squad now who have come through from schoolboys with the club, Dara Cronin, Barry Sorensen, Michael Quinn and our captain Fionnan Cremin. We're a real close-knit club and we even have family members playing together, even a father and son combination which is fantastic.
"I'm not here too long but the way the lads have taken to some of my ideas I cant thank them enough they truly are one of the best bunch of lads I've been around. I cant take any credit for the squad that's been assembled for that I take my hat off to Paul McCarthy.
“The management team is made up of Paul who won the AUL 2 and AUL 1 in consecutive seasons five years ago so his knowledge of the league is second to none and myself and Paul work very well together on the line and are great friends too. And the third man is Damian Whelton, who is player-coach, and has started our first two league games centre-back.
"He could have another three or four years ahead of him if he stopped going to Bingo on Thursday nights,” jokes Duncliffe.
On his journey of coaching, Duncliffe says it’s extra special having his soccer mad daughter next to him.
“Hannah is with me all the time on the line and she loves it. She recently joined Carrigaline FC and so football is a huge interest of hers at the moment which I love. I’m looking forward to the season ahead with Richmond and thrilled to have the support of my daughter with me along the way.”