What a week it has been for Carrick Rovers and the town of Carrickmacross as we played host to 4 Academy Coaches from Glasgow Celtic FC, Leigh Kelly, Catherine McGivern, Tom McKay and Daniel Tobin, for our inaugural Easter Soccer Development Academy.
The 4 coaches from the world renowned Glasgow side arrived in the town on Sunday 24th March and remained with us until Sunday 31st for an action packed programme which saw almost 70 children from the whole North East Region benefit from a fantastic coaching programme from Monday to Friday.
As the only club in the region to be involved in the Club Partnership Programme with the Glasgow giants, applications for the camp came from far and wide, even from as far as Dublin and in spite of the cold weather, the camp, which ran from 10-3 every day, surpassed all expectations as the children involved were treated to a week of fun filled football and top class coaching from the extremely professional coaching team from Celtic. This is a week that will live long in the memory of all those involved, from the children to the Carrick Rovers club and indeed the wider community, both sporting and otherwise, as we were privileged to have such excellent coaches from such a famous club in our midst.
Monday saw the camp begin with children from Carrick, Monaghan, Castleblayney, Shercock, Cavan, Dundalk and Dublin eagerly anticipating the week ahead. The Ballybay Road grounds were a hive of activity as the children were dropped off and the camp was off and running at ten o clock with the children divided into 4 groups and off working with each of their coaches. What followed turned out to be an experience of a lifetime for the football mad children as they enjoyed a week under the expert tutelage of the coaches whose passion and enthusiasm for the game was a joy to behold. Each day was packed with skills development, small sided games and coaching of the highest order from the extremely courteous, friendly and professional coaches and all involved can only have benefitted from working with Leigh, Tom, Catherine and Daniel.
Whilst the camp itself was the focus for the week the coaches could not have been any more accommodating and helpful as they did everything they could to ensure that Carrick Rovers benefitted from their presence in the town. The day did not end at 3 for the coaches as they also did evening sessions for the Carrick Rovers underage teams with the U12’s and U13’s on Monday, the U16’s and U17’s on the Wednesday with Tom McKay also travelling to Castleblayney to take a session with Our Ladys Secondary School Team and the U14’s and U15’s on the Thursday, as well as a session for goalkeepers. These sessions were part of the benefits of being the partner club with Celtic FC for Carrick Rovers and yet again all involved enjoyed them. In addition to the clubs evening sessions one of the coaches, Catherine McGivern, gave her time to get involved with the Soccer Sisters programme which took place from Monday to Thursday in the Phoenix Centre with 28 girls in attendance.
During their stay the coaches also managed to take in 2 international games as Monday night saw them travel to Oriel Park in Dundalk for the U21 International friendly between Ireland and Portugal before going to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Tuesday for the World Cup Qualifier between Ireland and Austria.
Thursday night saw a meet and greet session with the coaches for the parents of the children on the camp as well as local business and community representatives and a most enjoyable night was had by all in attendance as the Coaches were presented with Carrickmacross Lace as a memento of their visit to the town.
Their week of coaching finished on Friday night in Cootehill when the 4 coaches delivered an excellent Coach Education session for all coaches in the area and the large turn out of coaches was a great testament to the Celtic coaches and the interest that their visit had generated in the whole region and Carrick Rovers were delighted to ensure that with the coaches in the town that football in general in the region could benefit from their presence.
Although Saturday was their day off the interest that the coaches have in the game saw them travel to Athboy in Co Meath to take in a game between the home side and the Rovers U17’s which saw the Rovers earn a 5-2 victory before enjoying the remainder of their rest day in Carrickmacross.
Sunday saw the coaches leave us and move on to their next destination but there is no doubt that their week spent with us in Carrickmacross will never be forgotten. As the first step in the Club Partnership Programme between Celtic FC and Carrick Rovers it was an undoubted success, as was indicated by the response from the feedback forms which parents returned back to the club, and we can now look forward to building on this fantastic link between our club and the world renowned Celtic FC.
The Club would like to thank Willie McNab, Celtic FC International Academy who was instrumental in organising the week, Inver College for the use of their excellent facilities, John and Geraldine McMenamin for their superb hospitality in looking after the coaches during their stay, the parents of the children who attended the camp and indeed the children themselves whose behaviour was exemplary from start to finish. We would also like to thank all those who were involved in the organising of the camp and finally a huge thank you to Leigh, Catherine, Daniel and Tom, real football people whose professionalism, friendliness, enthusiasm and passion was phenomenal. They are welcome back to our club and town anytime and we look forward to advancing the Club Partnership with Celtic FC.