David Wilson reporting for the Sean McCaffery Foundation.
Forty-four coaches have recently benefitted from a player-development programme conducted by FAI officers John Crudden and Thomas Heffernan. Over the last couple of weeks, the course has been provided at facilities in both Cootehill Harps and Monaghan United, whilst the course itself was funded by the Sean McCaffery Foundation.
The course was specifically aimed at providing education in girls coaching and the development of local players across Cavan and Monaghan.
2019 has seen a major upturn in the interest of female only football. Last year there were fewer than ten girls registered to play football across both counties, however this year has seen the increase to 200 girls.
This has been down largely to the great work being done especially by John Crudden and Thomas Heffernan who have driven the initiative to provide girls football at underage level. Also, the clubs involved have given their support to the programme and off the back of it, the Cavan/Monaghan Underage League are investigating the possibility of a structured league in which regular competition can be provided at different age-groups.
The jump in popularity of girl’s football has also been helped by the recent women’s World Cup which was shown across both RTE and TG4 television. Watching women playing at the top level has made it a more accessible game, and whilst Cavan native Leanne Kiernan continues to blaze a trail for both West Ham United and Ireland, the local structures have began to improve substantially since she lined out in boys underage leagues whist playing for Kingscourt and Bailieborough.
Another example is Bonnie McKiernan. A talented goalkeeper, she was selected for the Kennedy Cup squad which competed at the University of Limerick in June, whilst also being selected for the Gaynor Cup squad by the North Eastern Counties Schoolboy League to compete in themarquee female only competition in Fota in Cork. This newinitiative means that girls like her will be able to compete against each other on a more regular basis and improve under a more qualified standard of specific coaching aimed at the development of girl’s football.
The work which continues to be undertaken at grassroots level is vital. Many young girls will now have the opportunity to play at regional level, regularly which is not only beneficial for the growth of football but also for the growth of girl’s sport locally.
The Sean McCaffery Foundation is proud to have been involved in this project and would like to thank those who took part on the course and wish them well in their coaching experiences.