AS we approach the return of schoolboys action, many clubs are busy ensuring teams will get back playing in a safe and fun environment.
Hoping for a full and undisrupted season, I caught up with Pearse Celtic Academy Co-ordinator Aidan Herlihy and he tells us about the excitement within the club for the coming season.
“It will be fantastic to see games played once again and the kids are really looking forward to it,” said Herlihy.
“The kids haven’t played in nearly three months now and being back in training you can see a real buzz about kids wanting to play games.
It’s an opportunity for them to put on the club jersey and I think that for a lot of them means more than anything.”
The Togher club continues to grow in membership and with currently approximately 190 kids including the academy and schoolboys, Herlihy is busy ensuring all teams will be back up and running and competing at the various levels.
“We have U12, U13, and U14s this season with the U12s playing in Division 2 in their first year. The U14s will play Division 2 after a tough year last year in Division 1 from which they were relegated.
“In hindsight, they should have chosen to stay in Division 2 when the Covid put a stop to football and all leagues were decided early, but the lads were after winning three out of three so were top and were promoted. But hopefully, they will do well.”
Like all clubs, having an academy is so important and for Herlihy, it’s all about getting the players in at a young age and develop them early on.
“I took on the role as academy coordinator three years after stepping down from the first team after nine years as manager. To be honest I never knew how much work is involved but it’s a role I’m enjoying.
“Basically I try to recruit coaches as much as possible and then we start the procedure of getting them all Garda vetted safeguarded and the FAI Pathway courses. I look at every age group at training and try to get to know as many kids names as possible as at that age it’s all about making the kids enjoy and being comfortable.”
After 13 years involved with his beloved club, O’Herlihy found Covid a difficult period without football but agrees there still could be positives come from it, such as the hunger from the kids to get back playing having missed it so much.
I believe kids want to play now more than ever. Being without football for so long made people realise they shouldn’t take things for granted as much.
"I missed it a lot, to be honest. It’s a passion for me I absolutely love football and I spend most of my time watching games.
“I don’t have kids myself, but the amount of nephews and nieces I have I could see what it was doing to them not playing sport. I found they were all spending too much time on computers but look it was very hard for them so I’m thrilled to see them back training and raring to go for the season ahead.
“There has been a lot of effort from all clubs to get clubs back playing. We had to make certain changes to tie in with the Covid guidelines. The Covid officer Killian Couch was great to work with all that.”
With talent coming through the academy, O’Herlihy is proud of players making it onto representative sides and hopes they can prepare kids to play at the highest level possible.
“Our aim at the club is to develop the player and the person. As a relatively new underage club, it has been very pleasing for us to see players make it onto Cork Development Squads.
“It really is a great thrill looking at the kids with the Pearse Celtic jersey representing the club. For myself as a former player and others such as Martin O’Donovan, Graeme Barry, and Sean O’Connor who all now coach at the club, it’s great to see this new generation.
“We have big plans all will be revealed very soon but we are delighted that we have our home pitch in Clashduv Park in the process of development and that’s a huge bonus for us to have that pitch available as it’s in the middle of our club’s heartbeat: Deanrock Estate.
“We really are one big family and long may it continue.”
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