Daniels still passionate about the Devon cause

Salthill Devon won the Galway FA premier division title on Wednesday evening

A lifetime spent with Salthill Devon means Ollie Daniels is fully aware that these are particularly sweet times.

On Sunday at Eamonn Deacy Park goals from Shane O'Rourke and Tommy McKeown ensured Victor Collins' outfit retained the Connacht Junior Cup following a hard earned 2-1 win over Ballinasloe Town.

"It was an absolutely fantastic achievement -clubs are about people, we have some tremendous people involved," Salthill Devon stalwart Daniels says.

"Victor Collins, Keith O'Shaughnessy, and Padraic Fadden in the management, then player wise guys like Vinny Faherty, Brian Geraghty, Timmy Molloy - all guys that played at League of Ireland level, but all came through the schoolboy system with Salthill and are back playing with Devon. They all played a huge part in the triumphs this year and last year.

"We have lots of really exciting young lads on the team - Aaron Conway, Matthew Murray, Calym Crowe - lots of really good young players."

Daniels, though, is optimistic about the future of the club highlighting the efforts of those who remain passionate about the Devon cause.

"Thirty years ago we won three Connacht Senior Cups in 1990, 1991, and 1992 under the tutelage of Tony Mannion," Daniels recalls.

"You had great guys involved - many of them Phil Bradley, Martin Ridge, Barry Conaire, and others were all at the match on Sunday. We have retained that linkage and involvement which is hugely important. It is about people, we are blessed to have people like Jim McSpadden, Brendan O'Shaughnessy, Tony Johnstone, Pete Kelly, Mike Murphy - people that have been involved since the 1970s with the club.

"New guys have come in like Tommy McClean, hugely involved, Ken Kinneen has come back involved in the last number of years."

With a number of teams making improvements in the junior game, Daniels hopes further progress can be made. "I think it is important if we are going to develop the amateur game in the city and county that we do something about the development of standards," he says.

"When I say we, I mean the clubs and the Galway FA together, I think we need to look at some kind of a licensing system, akin to what they have in the League of Ireland. It would ensure standard of facilities are made available for the players, changing facilities and the way we promote the game, that it is a very attractive product for young players.

"Frankly a lot of young players go to play national league at U17 and U19, the numbers that graduate to a professional or semi-professional contract with any League of Ireland club is small. We need to make sure those players aren't lost to the game."

The Connacht Senior League in the 1980s and 1990s is fondly remembered by many, including Daniels.

"There needs to be more collaboration," Daniels adds. "We need to compete on the field of play and collaborate off the field. I would love to see the emergence of the Connacht Senior League, not just at adult level, but at schoolboy level. If there was a Connacht Senior League parallel to the National League system I think that the game would remain attractive.

"If you got to play at National League level and it maybe didn't work out you have a really good standard to come back to and you can look to try to go again."

**Listen to the full interview with Salthill Devon stalwart Ollie Daniels on this week's 'Cian on Sport' podcast available on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.


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