WORKING hard both on and off the pitch family man Richie O’Brien spends the majority of his week involved in football.
Currently a coach with Ballyphehane club Kilreen Celtic, the father of four originally from Killarney, now settled in Cork, is a volunteer at the club trying his best to improve so many aspects of the club.
He tells us about his hectic life, working in the hotel industry, being a dad to Mia, Mason, Brooklyn and Harper, and juggling all of the above with the beautiful game.
“Me having a hectic life is an understatement,” laughs O’Brien. “Currently, I am at the club five days a week but it is fantastic to just concentrate on football instead of all things relating to Covid.
“The only good thing to come out of Covid is we as a club have seen a huge increase in children looking to get involved in sport which is fantastic, as I feel it’s how children can express themselves freely.”
O’Brien is quick to praise the other volunteers at the club while also acknowledging the partners of the coaches who allow them to spend so much time at the club.
“Currently, I am looking after the U10 players, which consists of male and female, who I have been coaching now since they were four or five.
“They are a great bunch of kids and the football that they play at times is sensational. I assist with the U11 team and coach the U13 team also.
“I also have the absolute pleasure to set up and coach the first ever girls’ team at U10. There is about 180 kids in total and huge credit to the coaches involved.
“Coach for the U8, Colin Payne grew up playing with Kilreen and is now watching his sons play.
“Colin is extremely hard working and always wants to learn and ensure that the U8 team always leave the sessions, learning something new."
Colin is assisted by Vincente Rodrigo Parrilla and Mark Clifford, both of whom have extensive knowledge and a soccer background.
“Coach for the U11 team and who is my partner is crime with the U13 team is Stephen Cahill. Stephen again played with Kilreen Celtic at underage level and is now watching both his sons play.
“Stephen does a lot of research on drills for sessions and has a wealth of knowledge and has a very good eye for tactical positioning. I am fortunate and have the pleasure to be able to learn from him.
“With the U10 girls, I am extremely lucky that I have a parent who loves the sport in David O Sullivan.
“In the short time that we have coached these girls, he has a very good eye for what the girls need and is not afraid of getting stuck in.
“The girls have a lot of respect for David which goes a long way. Also, within the club, we are grateful to have John and Nicola O’Regan who are always there to help.
“While I can say I am lucky to be coaching alongside these people, the backbone has to be our better halves who allow us to be away from home for a long period of time and constantly on the phone.
“While the club are lucky to have us, we are lucky to have them.
“While having an extremely busy career and a career which I am grateful and proud to have with Trigon Hotels, it seems that Kilreen Celtic is a second career.
“From organising training and equipment to organising non-competitive matches it’s a full-time job.
“Once I finish work it’s straight to the pitch, training only takes an hour but it’s the 45 minutes setting up goals, etc before and after that people don’t see.
“I am lucky enough that we plan our week around the kids and other sporting activities but it’s all go and a lot of drop-offs and collects.
“I also am lucky enough to have a wife who I met while in college, who has had a huge passion for soccer.
“Ciara [Meehan] learned her trade playing in goal with Wilton United, playing with Cork teams all the way up from U12, Cork City and she was also signed by St Francis based in Dublin where she played in the 2009-2010 Women’s Champions League in Cyprus.
“So, for us as a family, soccer is everything.”