Cabinteely FC is a new kid on the block as regards the SSE Airtricity League entering into only it’s third season at the elite level but it is a club built on the strong foundation of 50 years of playing at age grade level.
It is also a club with high ambitions for the future and we caught up with Chairman Larry Bass, taking time out from producing Dancing with the Stars to look instead at aiming for the stars in terms of domestic soccer.
“Cabinteely is a great community club and we want to retain that link to local spirit as we compete at national level with our senior team and within the new structures of elite under age football introduced by UEFA.”
“That was what prompted the club to go for SSE Airtricity League status three years ago and while it was not a universally welcomed step up the benefits will be for all of our players in the years to come.”
Cabinteely has always had a strong bond to its juvenile teams.
The Mini World Cup it hosts each summer is among the largest festivals of football in the country. Seeing 18 consecutive games being played across different sized pitches in Kilbogget Park between Cabinteely and Ballybrack in Dun Laoghaire is akin to stepping onto the set of Game of Thrones.
That reach to the youngest of players has built out a vibrant community club which now fields 60 teams including in boys, girls and Special Olympics teams, and at the highest levels of under age football.
The introduction of U19 and U17 national leagues, prompted by UEFA to provide a more solid and local base for developing players was the spark to go for League membership.
“With those Leagues coming we were faced with a choice of seeing our best players have to look elsewhere to further their career or give them the opportunity to do that in the same community from which they developed their love of the game,” said Bass.
“We reached agreement with Blackrock College Rugby Club to share their facilities at Stradbrook and welcomed over 1,600 fans to our first game, a memorable win against the eventual Division One Champions that season in Wexford Youths.”
We progressed one place off the bottom of the division in year two and we have ambition to go much further now that we are finding our feet.
At the launch of the new season and the new Strategic Plan on Monday night Bass and Juvenile Club Chairman Michael Golden outlined their vision as to how all of the club would take that journey.
The elite club is structured separately to the main club, offering protection that their will not be a siphoning off of all resources towards the top team.
There are plans afoot with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to develop facilities at Kilbogget park which will benefit not only Cabinteely FC but also Seapoint Rugby Club, Foxrock Cabinteely GAA Club and Cabinteely Athletics Club.
It will be the first step towards creating a sporting campus in the area that will benefit those who’s passions range across a variety of sports.
For the moment though attentions switch to Friday’s opening game of the season against local rivals UCD.
“We want to attract bigger crowds from within the community to all our games.”
“Pat Devlin has come on board this season to guide the senior team and bring his experience to making sure we get things right at U19, U17 and from this summer at U15 level as well.”
The strategic plan lists developments in facilities, communications, sponsorship and fundraising among its main priorities.
There is an energy within the club that suggests anything is possible. That is always easiest to harness in the optimistic days before the season begins but Cabinteely and Bass are willing to play a longer game than would be determined over 90 minutes.
There is a line in the strategy that says “Trophies gather dust but memories last forever.” That’s not a bad starting point to build something that will last.