College Corinthians celebrating 50 years with 35 teams across all ages

College Corinthians AFC was founded in 1971 by a number of UCC graduates
College Corinthians celebrating 50 years with 35 teams across all ages

College Corinthians captain Harvey Skieters raises the trophy after defeating Midleton in the Joma Sports Gear Direct U16 Cup final. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

IT’S a huge year for College Corinthians FC as they celebrate 50 years.

It’s a remarkable milestone to reach by any sporting organisation, and the club plans to celebrate this wonderful achievement. What started out with just one team back in 1971, the Douglas-based club currently caters for 35 teams, and all involved deserve huge credit.

Recently I caught up with schoolboys section coordinator Terry O’Donovan and he gave me an insight into the club and how it continues to progress both on and off the field.

“College Corinthians AFC was founded in 1971 by a number of UCC graduates who, having enjoyed their football in their UCC days, were eager to maintain their sporting friendships outside of college,” said Daly.

Having started initially as a social side, the club subsequently applied for membership of the Munster Senior League, and in August 1971 College Corinthians AFC played its first competitive match against Wembley and has been a member of the Munster Senior League ever since.

“The club played its home games in UCC’s ground at The Farm, and from humble beginnings, the club grew steadily in the late '70s and early '80s, fielding four adult teams,” said Daly. “In 1990, Corinthians opened its own playing facility in the Castletreasure area of Douglas — a facility that now contains three grass pitches and an all-weather training area.

“Having established a base, Corinthians’ aim was to foster and encourage the playing of soccer within the local community and to give the opportunity to boys and girls of all ages to get involved with a local club. The 1994-95 season saw the introduction of schoolboy football in College Corinthians.

“A schoolgirl section was established a couple of years later, and this was soon followed by a thriving underage academy catering for boys and girls. Over the years, the club has catered for thousands of boys from the locality, which has meant that our grounds are always vibrant and full of activity, which is what we all want to see.”

The U15 College Corinthians panel, Evans Cup winners.
The U15 College Corinthians panel, Evans Cup winners.

Seeing empty pitches during lockdown, like all other clubs, was tough for all involved with the club. So to be able to get back training and playing now, and hopefully have an undisrupted season, will be the main priority for all coaches at the club.

“With the new schoolboy season fast approaching, there is great excitement within the club, as everyone is looking forward to getting back playing again,” said Daly.

The Cork Schoolboys League have been brilliant over the past few months, as they did everything in their power to get their leagues completed, as well as hosting the Local Cup finals in Turner's Cross.

“It was fantastic to see kids back playing, and it has whetted everyone’s appetite for the new season.

“It promises to be a busy start to the season in Corinthians, with the club entering 20 teams in the Cork Schoolboys League from U12 to U16. The main focus certainly at schoolboy/schoolgirl level for this season will be to get people back playing and training again.

“Our schoolgirls’ section, which is under the guidance of Neil Daly and Colm Ó Duibhir, has been making great strides in recent seasons, and this season we will field five schoolgirl teams as well as catering for younger girls in our academy; I would love to see our schoolgirl numbers grow to match our numbers in the boys’ section.”

College Corinthians schoolgirls squad.
College Corinthians schoolgirls squad.

The academy section caters for boys and girls from U6 to U11, with the sessions focused on the kids having fun in a relaxed and enjoyable environment. Former Ireland international Joe Gamble and coaching coordinator Craig Donnellan help develop individual players’ skillsets.

Catering for over 30 teams can be a challenge, but having top-class facilities can certainly ease the pressure.

“The club has invested heavily during the summer, in extending our existing all-weather facility as well as laying a new grass training pitch. We are hoping that works will be completed by the end of September.

“With membership numbers, fortunately, continuing to grow, this season the club will field over 30 teams, as well as catering for boys and girls academy; we will field five adult teams, five youth teams, 20 schoolboy teams, and five schoolgirl teams. This is something we as a club are very proud of as we celebrate 50 years in football.

“The main highlight has been seeing the club grow and develop on and off the field over the years, initially starting as a single team back in 1971 to today where the club is now an integral part of the community in the greater Douglas area, catering for boys and girls of all ages.

If I was to pick a couple of highlights, I would have to include on the adult front the winning of five Munster Senior League Premier titles and on the schoolboy side winning two SFAI National Cups in 2017 and 2018.

“It has also been fantastic to see some of our schoolboy and schoolgirl players graduating to play for Ireland. David Meyler, Brian Lenihan, Eoghan O’Connell, Adam Idah, and Megan Connolly all started with Corinthians at five, six years of age and have been brilliant ambassadors.”

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