Murnaghan to the fore as Warrenpoint fortunes begin to turn

David Wilson reporting for the Sean McCaffrey Foundation.

Only a few weeks ago, Warrenpoint Town saw themselves at the foot of the NIFL Premiership, staring at relegation after manager Stephen McDonnell being relieved of his duties.

Opportunities in football can sometimes take time to occur. Lorcan Murnaghan, a graduate of the Cavan/Monaghan Emerging Talent Programme and someone who progressed through the levels of the Airtricity sides here in the area, found himself on the fringes of the first team at Warrenpoint. 

Murnaghan has been given his chance under new manager Barry Gray. Gray was a former manager at the Milltown club for 10 years before moving on to take the reins at Belfast club Cliftonville in May 2017. 

However, after being sacked in January 2019, Gray had been on the hunt for a job in the North’s top division. 

With a stalwart of the club returning to the fold, Murnaghan has saw more opportunity. After making the bench in the last number of games, the former Carrick Rovers underage player was deployed at right-wing back in a crucial game at home to Ballymena United.

A backs to the wall performance saw Warrenpoint ran out winners on a scoreline of two goals to one. This victory comes off the back of a previous home win against then table-toppers Coleraine. 

Warrenpoint now are just three points off Institute who currently occupy the relegation play-off spot. With a game on St. Stephens day to come against the Derrymen, there is long way to go in the battle to stay in the top division.

The ‘Point have been helped with that proverbial ‘new manager bounce’, although suffering defeats to Cliftonville, Carrick Rangers, Glentoran and Crusaders, performances have improved being helped with the introduction of Monaghan’s Murnaghan. 

Murnaghan, who is now in his final year, juggles a health and performance science degree in UCD along with travelling to Warrenpoint for training and matches more than four times a week. 

Commitment, desire and an enthusiasm and willingness to develop and learn are the hallmarks of Murnaghan’s fledgling career. 

A tenacious tackler, a willingness to take the ball under pressure with an eye for a killer pass, Murnaghan has developed his game to allow him to be able to play in all positions in a back four or five, whilst also demonstrating the strengths needed to play in midfield also. 

Combining full-time education, a football career and maintaining a part-time job can be difficult to manage at times, however Murnaghan has demonstrated that determination needed to succeed at a high level. 

Next on the agenda for the Donaghmoyne man is solidifying his place in the side. As the NIFL Premiership heads towards its busy Christmas schedule, the ‘Point squad will be tested to its limits as important games away to Dungannon Swifts and at home to Linfield awaits. 

Serious questions need to be asked regarding sports capital funding grants

Photo by Master Of Shots on Pexels.com

David Wilson reporting for the Sean McCaffrey foundation.

Recently, Minister for Business and Innovation and Cavan/Monaghan T.D. Heather Humphreys announced via her twitter account all the sports clubs who have received funding through the National Sports Capital Programme.

Out of the €1.36m worth of state funding, a measly €60,591 was allocated directly for the development of soccer in both Cavan and Monaghan. This equates to just under 4.5% of the total funding was allocated to the most participated sport in the country.

Problems

There are some problems regarding the attaining of the grants. The club must own their own facilities which is a stumbling block for many sports organisations.

Also, the club must provide proof of some financial backing, whether that is backing from a national governing body e.g. the FAI or a financial institution such as a loan from a bank.

Without existing collateral such as a pitch or clubrooms, it is nigh on impossible to attain funding from financial institutions. Local councils do not to do enough in the education or the provision of possible avenues of funding for local sporting organisations.

Whilst speaking to a member of the Monaghan Town club, they have been left frustrated by their inability to apply for grants due to not owning their own grounds. How are clubs meant to improve or even own their own facilities when they don’t have the means to do so?

Another north Monaghan club were completely unaware of the grants that were available, pointing to the lack of information concerning the allocation of government funding.

Successful

The Clontibret Development Association which is defined in the report as specifically a soccer programme was the only ‘soccer-only’ club to receive funding in all of Monaghan. They received €14,425 which is focused on the improvement of their ‘Clontibret Community Dressing Rooms’.

When further researching this project, the Clontibret Development Association have constructed an astro-turf pitch which was built by PST Sport, an Irish artificial pitch installation company.

The astro-turf pitches have been constructed with two GAA goalposts at either end of the pitch, with two more GAA goalposts flanking each side of the pitch. The pitch also has floodlights which allow for activity 365 days of the year.

There are nets provided which can divide the pitch into sectors, but this would mainly to allow people play 5 aside, limiting numbers and space. This provides a beneficial source of revenue for the organisation.

Questions

In the Sports Capital Programme report which is available online the club has been allocated €14,425 for the development of soccer.

There is no organised soccer club in Clontibret, at either a junior or adult level. Questions must be asked to why over €14,000 was allocated to an area based on the development of soccer, when there is little representation of a soccer club on the area.

The Clontibret Development Association should not be denounced in receiving the funding, rather questions should be asked of state bodies who determine and allocate the funding.

A spokesperson from the association said that they were delighted to receive the funding and are aiming to use it to build the necessary bathroom facilities along with changing facilities soon.  

Cavan soccer

Cavan on the other hand saw only soccer one club receive state money. A juvenile club UCL Harps, who compete in the Longford and District league, received €44,166 of state funding for the erection of a clubhouse.

Out of the 21 organisations in Cavan that received government funding, over 70% of those who received funding were GAA clubs.

Monaghan soccer

In Monaghan 21 organisations also received funding, 13 of those 21 organisations were awarded funding for the development of Gaelic Games. Our Lady’s Secondary School in Monaghan were awarded €23,498 for the development of Gaelic Games, even though schools are encouraged to facilitate for all who wish to take part in any sport.

The provision of government funding has long neglected soccer as a means of investing in at a serious level. Not just soccer, but all sports other than GAA have seemed somewhat overlooked in recent years.

2017 report

In the 2017 report, only two soccer clubs in Cavan, UCL Harps and Bailieboro Celtic benefitted from government funding receiving €40,000 and €11,000 respectively. This equates to 5.5% of state funding being invested in local soccer clubs.

The 2017 report saw also just two clubs receive government funding. Monaghan United and Carrick Rovers AFC received €2,000 and €39,000 which worked out to be just over 5% of the total funding granted in 2017.

The tradition in the under-funding of soccer clubs has occurred consistently year on year with monies allocated to soccer fluctuating between 3% to 7% of the total budget.

Shortcomings

The GAA have long proved to be the masters of lobbying and fundraising. Soccer clubs continually fall short regarding their own fundraising, but they need to be helped by the authorities in question.

Fianna Fáil councillor Raymond Aughey spoke to the Sean McCaffrey Foundation regarding the subject.

“There is a prejudice against soccer in this county,” said Cllr Aughey. “I think the best way for other sports to receive funding would be to come up with some sort of a plan together, and then fill out an application that would have more of a chance of receiving government money,” continued Aughey.

Politicians, club delegates and sports club committee members need to come together to educate, inform and eventually overcome the deficit in the funding of soccer in this area.

Monaghan/Cavan League begins to take shape

David Wilson reporting for the Sean McCaffrey foundation.

Cavan Town are the runaway leaders of the Monaghan/Cavan Premier Division with an impressive record of played seven games, victorious in six, with only the one loss. This is largely down to the goals of both Packie Sheridan and Callum Lynch who have both notched 14 and 12 goals respectively adding to impressive tally of 35 goals in just seven games.

Monaghan Town are second five points behind their Cavan rivals with the same number of games played. Clones Town are hot on their heels just one point behind with Killylough in fourth position a further four pints behind Monaghan Town.

Sporting Ballyjamesduff are second bottom on four points whereas Killymooney lie at the foot of the premier division with just one win from their six games so far.

November is the first month where due diligence can be paid to the table standings as teams begin their chase for the league title while some aim to turn their fortunes around and hope to move away from the drop zone.

The First Division is also topped by Cavan town who seem to have monopolised both divisions, however things are tighter as Ballyhaise Celtic just lie a solitary point behind having both played six games.

Glaslough Villa have started at a reasonable pace and find themselves three points off the top in third whereas Monaghan United remain in fourth spot with a total of eight points.

Cootehill Harps have managed seven points from their first six games, and they lie above both Sporting Ballyjamesduff and Cavan Town who occupy the bottom two.

The winter months prove to be the test for any league winning side. A lot can change in a couple of games and teams who can put a run of successive victories will find themselves shooting up the table in double quick time.

What is for certain, with the influx of a lot of cup games along with harsh winter conditions, teams with decent squad depth will be required to rotate in what should be a fascinating couple of months in local junior football.

McEntee continues to impress ahead of upcoming qualifiers

David Wilson reporting for the Sean McCaffrey foundation.

The games have been coming thick and fast over the past few weeks for Oisin McEntee. Fresh after captaining his country at under-19 level, the Newcastle United youngster has featured regularly for the clubs’ under-23 side.

Club form

Derby games against Middlesbrough and Sunderland preceded by a tough away game at West Brom has allowed McEntee the opportunity to test himself against experienced pro’s such as Hal Robson-Kanu a Welsh international with over 40 senior caps and Chris Brunt a former Northern Ireland international with 65 caps and a wealth of Premier League experience.

To some, it would be a daunting task, however the centre-half has taken it in his stride performing well as he takes his first steps into senior football. Netting a stoppage-time equaliser against Middlesbrough was testament to the strides forward being made by the Shercock native.

A clean sheet and a solid performance in a derby game away to eternal rivals Sunderland has seen McEntee become a fixture in the reserve side as the under-19 international looks to force his way into the reckoning for the first team or a possible loan move to gain valuable first team experience.

International

Next on the agenda is an important elite qualifying phase for the under-19 international side. The squad will play three games in Austria as they embark on their first step in qualification for the under-19 European Championships that will take place in Northern Ireland next year.

Switzerland and Austria will provide stiff opposition for this year’s semi-finalists, while Ireland should take care of minnows Gibraltar. Both central European nations in Switzerland and Austria have considerable pedigree at this level as Tom Mohan’s men have been drawn in one of the more difficult groups.

Experience

McEntee’s experience of playing in a major tournament last year will be crucial. The partnership with Arsenal defender Mark McGuinness blossomed over the course of the competition in the summer, leading to comparisons being made to senior international defenders Shane Duffy and John O’Shea.

The future is bright for the former Patrician High School student. A run of games for club and country has meant that McEntee has became more accustomed to the rigours of the professional game. Ireland will need all his experience of playing top international sides to overcome a difficult qualifying group and set them on their way to another major tournament next summer.

Leanne Kiernan leads the way for club and country

David Wilson reporting for the Sean McCaffrey foundation.

As West Ham searched for a winner against Reading in their recent Continental League Cup match, Cavan prodigy Leanne Kiernan was brought off the bench in the hope of providing the spark for her team.

While the clock ticked down towards 90 minutes, it was Kiernan’s searing pace that saw her burst through the Reading defence and lay on a plate a pass which was struck home by teammate Alisha Lehmann.

Kiernan’s impact delighted her teammates and her manager Matt Beard as they were able to progress to the next round of the League Cup.

Focus now turns to an important EURO 2021 Qualification game away to Greece for the Bailieborough native as Ireland look to qualify for their first major tournament.

In a season which has been slightly interrupted by injury, Kiernan appeared off the bench in the last international qualifier at home to Ukraine. The Girls in Green were the victors in that game in front of a record crowd in Tallaght stadium.

Kiernan provided a much-needed outlet down the right using her speed and neat dribbling ability to provide her defence with a breather as the Ukrainians poured forward in search of an equaliser.

Ireland will be hoping for a positive result in Greece as they look to secure second place and a play-off for the European championships taking place in England in 19 months’ time. New head coach Vera Pauw will look to former player of the year Kiernan to spearhead an attack alongside Rianna Jarrett, Katie McCabe, Amber Barrett and the likes.

Kiernan will hope to cement her place for both club and country over the next few months as the 2019/20 season takes shape. Dynamic, strong, pacey with an eye for goal it won’t be long before the clinical striker will be among the goals both in the green of Ireland, and in the claret and blue of West Ham United.

All-Island League dead in the water as Ulster says no

David Wilson reporting for the Sean McCaffrey foundation.

The cross-border league initiative put forward by Kerry businessman Kieran Lucid and his team has been effectively shot down as the Irish Football Association (IFA) refuse to sanction any of their clubs to take part in it.

An IFA statement read, “The Irish football association has confirmed that it will not sanction any of its member clubs to take part in an all-island (All-Ireland) Football League as proposed by Irish businessman Kieran Lucid.”

“Having listened to the proposals from Mr Lucid and his team, we believe the best interests of our member clubs and football in Northern Ireland are better served by remaining with the club-led model established in 2013 via the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL).”

Last week all clubs both sides of the border gathered in Dundalk for a meeting which was largely deemed as a positive step in the right direction.

Over the course of the negotiation’s members from the FAI and UEFA had indicated that they were willing to give their support to the idea. However, for the agreement to work they needed the support of the IFA.

Similarly, to the English FA and the Premier League, the NIFL is independent of the IFA. The 38 NIFL clubs follow the rules and articles of the IFA yet the clubs are administrated separately.

IFA CEO Patrick Nelson who declared his associations opposition to the plans continued: “The present distribution model unanimously agreed by all clubs ensures all 12 teams in the Danske Bank Premiership benefit from the prize fund.”

“This has created a balanced league which has seen a substantial increase in attendances, awareness and television coverage. The potential income figures quoted in Mr Lucid’s proposals are highly speculative and lack specificity or guarantees.”

The IFA voiced their concerns over UEFA funding regarding the circulation of European places, prize money and youth solidarity funding.

The statement is a major dent to Lucid and his team working on the project. For areas such as Cavan/Monaghan, Kerry, Carlow/Kilkenny and Mayo this will impinge on their aspirations to have a senior side competing at a league level, something for their academy players to aspire to.

There was hope that perhaps a team here in the Cavan/Monaghan could be reignited here again if a cross-border league was introduced as there is some limited infrastructure already in place.

It was hoped that a team representing this area could enter the northern section of Lucid’s reformed league structure and would benefit from more regular games against teams both sides of the border. Unfortunately, those aspirations look as further away as ever.

SPORTING BJD FC: An Insight

Formation

Founded in 2018 Sporting Ballyjamesduff play their home games in Cavan Astro Park and their senior team compete in the Monaghan/Cavan League.

The formation of the club wished to incorporate an environment which meant that everyone in the club would be valued, welcomed, respected and encouraged.

The people involved at the foundation of our club, had many years of experience in both playing and managing other clubs, and this gave us a wonderful and strong foundation to build on.

First team

The first team is managed by Scott Thunder and he is assisted by Lee Halpin. Halpin is a product of the Cavan/Monaghan emerging talent programme representing the CMUL at the Foyle Cup.

In their first-year success was widespread winning the Sean Woods Cup, the Eugene Connolly Shield, and finishing up as runners up in the MCL First Division.

A first team is only as strong as its reserve team and they provide great competition for places. The second side is managed by Joe McDermott, Ryan Hughes and Paddy Mmutlana.

Volunteers

The club is blessed to have some great volunteers who invest a lot of time in the organisation of the club. Members such as Martin Shannon, Paul Halpin, Junior Mabhuto, Shakes Ngotle, Lincon Tabane, Lee Halpin, Con Cullen, Francis O Connor and Troy Reilly bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm which helps develop the club positively.

Representation

Not only does the club represent the Town of Ballyjamesduff, we have players from all parts of Cavan playing with us, and even players from Meath, Westmeath and Longford.

The club continues to evolve, and this season has seen the introduction of a second team meaning that the club now has a team in both the MCL Premier and First Divisions.

In the future Sporting BJD are hoping to organise a women’s senior team together as well.

Future

On and off the field the club continues to progress. The main aspiration is to soon have their own playing field in their town of Ballyjamesduff.

The club has come a long way in a short space of time. There are many driven and ambitious people involved and the appetite for new players, volunteers and coaches is unquenchable. If you would like to get involved, please don’t hesitate to contact the page and we can put you in touch with the right people.