O'Neill relishing coaching adventure

Anthony O'Neill manages Galway United's U15 team

Anthony O’Neill is back in the west of Ireland eager to continue his interesting coaching career with Galway United U15s.

A decade and a half ago O’Neill started out taking sessions for John Power’s academy and has embarked on a rewarding spell.

An enjoyable stint as a student and coach in the USA opened up possibilities for O’Neill, who had a stint too with progressive Limerick club Aisling Annacotty.

Now the mission O’Neill wants to accomplish is to help develop a collection of United U15 footballers. “It is going well,” O’Neill says following Sunday’s draw with Athlone Town. “We are 12 weeks in now with the pre-season schedule - training, pre-season, and games. We have had a couple of league games too. It is taking time, I think it is very new for the lads.

“We have a lot of lads in the squad, who haven't previous experience playing in the national underage leagues. So it is taking time to adjust to the different level, the requirements of playing at this level, training three nights a week.

“The increase in demands at this level, we are in the middle of a process, but we are happy where we are at, and we have certainly seen improvements.”

O’Neill used his time in the States wisely with the importance of sport underlined. “It was a great life experience, I got to see a lot of the States,” he says.

“When you play college soccer in America you train every day and basically you're almost like a professional athlete. You are playing two games a week and four or five training sessions a week, travelling across the country, I would recommend it for any young person.”

Ultimately the national underage leagues are affording chances to emerging players, but new coaches are also being exposed to a good environment.

“It is as much a challenge for the coaches as much as the players,” O’Neill replies. “There is a very good coach education system in Ireland rolled out by the FAI. I have gone through the American coaching system and the UEFA coaching system with the FAI.

“I've recently just completed my A licence and I think now there are opportunities for young coaches to get involved at the highest level in underage football in this country. I think it can only get better. There is a lot of room for growth depending on resources and finances.

“I'm hopeful that will improve in the future. The players are training with the best players in the region, then on a Saturday or Sunday they are going out against the best players from other regions across the country. So that is a challenge for them and that is no different for the coaches.”


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