Women’s Republic of Ireland Senior Women’s Internationals Leanne Kiernan, Amanda McQuillan and Roma McLaughlin, as well as Republic of Ireland Senior Men’s internationals David Meyler, Daryl Horgan and John O’Shea were on hand at Abbottstown yesterday to launch the Bank of Ireland FAI Post Primary Schools competitions for the 2017/18 season.
Each of them enjoyed their first experience of International football representing their school during their junior and senior cycle on the Interprovincial and International stage.
Kiernan herself has just completed her Leaving Cert in Bailieborough Community School and is now considering her third level options. The Cavan native was selected for the Ulster and U15 Republic of Ireland Schools squad in four years ago.
Previous to that McQuillan (Beaufort College, Navan) and McLaughlin (Moville Community College) both featured in 2012/13 Interprovincial and International level as well as their respective schools.
The two have both completed the FAI / ETB Player Development Course in Clondalkin earlier this year and will assess their academic future now. All three players represented Shelbourne Ladies FC in the UEFA Women’s Champion League this Summer.
Coláiste Einde, Salthill scholar Daryl Horgan featured in 2009/10 for FAI Schools and is currently applying his trade at Preston North End FC. Hull City’s David Meyler attended Christian Brothers College, Cork and enjoyed his spell there capturing Munster Cup titles while Sunderland defender John O’Shea lined out for Waterford’s De La Salle College before making the move to Manchester United in 1999.
Joining the International players in the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown were some of the winners of last season’s Bank of Ireland FAI Schools Cups.
The interest in schools football has increased over the last number of years with 38,000 players from 510 schools participating nationwide last year.
Mulroy College, Milford, Donegal won the Senior ‘B’ Girls National Cup title for small schools.
St. Laurence College, Loughlinstown captured the Bank of Ireland Junior Cup last season for the first time in the school’s fifty year history.
St. Francis College, Rochestown secured double Cup success as the boys sealed a win in the Dr Tony O’Neill Senior Cup in 2017 as well as collecting the Tom Ticher Junior Cup title.
St. Joseph’s College, Galway returned to winning ways having collected the First Year Boys National crown following a slender victory over Wexford CBS in pulsating tie last season. The players will be hoping for continued success in defending their provincial honours again in 2018 when their schools kick off their season next month.
These prestigious competitions have featured many high profile players throughout the years. As well as the six International stars in action this afternoon, they also follow the footsteps of Seamus Coleman (St. Catherine’s Vocational School, Killybegs) and Stephen Ward (Portmarnock Community School).
This season’s Ambassador Stephen Hunt starred in these competitions having secured a Munster Schools Junior Cup with Carrick CBS in his younger days which saw him first scouted for Crystal Palace.
“As Ireland’s leading bank for students of all ages we are delighted and proud to partner with the FAI Schools Post Primary competitions,” said Rory Carty, Head of Youth Banking at Bank of Ireland.
“We’ve been supporting the FAI Schools Post Primary competition since 2014 and are particularly delighted to provide support to develop the game across the country.”
“The competition allows children to learn about the game, develop their skills and even meet some of the international players. We are proud to support the FAI and I am sure the competition will help discover Ireland’s future football stars.”
“This is Bank of Ireland’s fourth year as sponsor of the FAI Schools Post Primary Schools competitions,” added Sean Carr, Chairman of the FAI Schools Committee.
“Since the inception of our sponsorship agreement, we had great interaction from the participating schools. We look forward to seeing lots more children enjoying the schools’ football schedule throughout the academic year, being active, competing on an equal footing and having fun together.”
“The numerous Cup and League competitions offer huge variety with small and large schools catered for. There are various divisions that accommodate boys and girls from First Year right through to Leaving Certificate.”
Bank of Ireland and the FAI are among the more than 220 organisations that play an active part of the Sport for Business community.