Cork club Midleton FC scooped the prestigious FAI/Aviva club of the year award for the 2011/2012 season at the weekend in Letterkenny, Donegal.
The annual competition, now in its sixth year, is run in conjunction with the Irish Daily Star and the Carlton Hotel, Tyrrelstown.
The purpose of the competition is to honour the most progressive clubs in the country and gives them the recognition that they deserve on a local and national level.
It profiles some of the finest football clubs in the country through a series of eight monthly prizes culminating in the Aviva Club of the Year Award which is made on the eve of the FAI AGM.
Standards were particularly high amongst the monthly winners this season and it took a mighty effort from 19-team club Midleton to stave off competition from the other seven qualifiers. However, the strides they've made in all aspects of their club made a special impression on the independent judging panel on Friday at the Mount Errigal Hotel in Letterkenny to earn them the accolade at the delegates' function that evening.
Monthly winners received a cheque for â‚¬1,500 with the annual victors claiming a prize of â‚¬5,000. The other contenders were Kilbarrack United, Ardee Celtic, Enniskerry FC, Nenagh AFC, Birr Town, Moville Celtic and Crosshaven AFC.
Midleton FC was founded in 1973 by Fr. Murphy and has grown into a huge operation at Knockgroffin Park which caters for over 600 players across an array of age-groups.
Now approaching their 40th anniversary, the club have complemented their ambitious facility development with a series of football programmes centred on a community ethos.
Two development plans, firstly in 2003 followed by a second in 2008, formed the backbone to the club's vision.
Their facility at Knockgriffin Park is a credit to the club, as evidenced by their hosting of a series of UEFA Under-19s qualifiers, an Amateur international between Ireland and England, as well as providing a training base for visiting international squads such as France and Germany.
All-weather pitches, UEFA standard dressing-rooms, floodlights for the main playing pitch and an extra pitch at Market Green formed the first four steps of their development plan.
Future plans are well in train to convert their second grass surface into a full-size floodlit all-weather pitch - which planning permission has been granted for - as well as an upgrade of the old clubhouse.
Self-finance, driven by vigorous fund-raising amongst members, has been key to this infrastructural progress.
On the football side, the Magpies cater for children as young as five in their Academy, schoolboy and schoolgirl players from Under-11 to Under-19s, along with senior, junior and ladies teams. These are affiliated to the Munster Senior League, Cork Youth League, Cork Schoolboys League and Cork Ladies Soccer League.
A major emphasis on coach education has resulted in 53 qualified coaches in the club. The FAI's programmes such as Soccer Sisters, Futsal and Eflow Summer Soccer Schools have been embraced with the latter ranking as one of the best-attended in Ireland over the past three years.
Central to the East Cork outfit too is their Football for All programme, providing an outlet for boys and girls with disabilities to have equal opportunities.
Midleton even stage a St. Stephen's Day football special to raise funds for local charities.
As their mission statement best summarises: 'the club aspires to provide quality training, development and education to the benefit of the individual, the football club, the community and sport as a whole.'
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