Class of '23 graduate from TY course


Class of '23 graduate from TY course

As Ireland’s Men's Under-17s prepared to face off against Spain their European Championship quarter-final this weekend, there was additional cause for celebration as Fingal County Council and the Football Association of Ireland class of ’23 graduated from the Football and Fitness TY Course, a joint collaboration based at the Corduff Sports Centre in Blanchardstown.
25th May 2023

Such is the strength and depth of the Fingal TY course that five of last year’s graduates are currently away with the U17s team, including two goal hero Luke Kehir who helped secure a superb 4-2 win over tournament hosts Hungary and book the young Boys in Green their place in the last eight. Luke, along with MU17s' vice captain Danny McGrath, Taylor Mooney, Rhys Bartley and Joe Collins were all part of last year's course.

The 25 transition year students from across Fingal this year received their certificates in front of an audience that included Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Howard Mahony, President of the FAI Gerry McAnaney, Fingal County Council officials and those involved in the day-to-day running of the programme. Also on hand to congratulate the latest cohort was Republic of Ireland Under 21s Manager Jim Crawford with Millwall recruit and Ireland underage international Aidamo Emakhu, who himself graduated from the TY course in 2020.

While football remains a central focus of the joint Fingal County Council and FAI initiative, students participating in the course also benefit from gaining a highly sought-after full Fitness Instructor’s qualification from Litton Lane Training. They also undertake the FAI’s Coach Education pathway that gives them PDP1 and PDP2 qualifications, as well as a gym instructor qualification.

Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Howard Mahony praised the commitment of the new TY graduates and that of the coaching staff: “It is inspiring to see these boys pursuing their passion for football while simultaneously learning essential life and fitness skills. These ambitious individuals have dedicated themselves to not only honing their athletic abilities but strive to excel both on and off the pitch.

“This is a programme offering Fingal TY students an amazing experience that brings together the learning of key life skills. We believe it helps give these graduates a good grounding in what can be a high-pressure environment, alongside the benefit of them accessing experts in sports related fitness.“

Ireland U21 Head Coach Jim Crawford said: “It was a pleasure to meet all the students and coaches at Corduff and to help them celebrate the completion of the seventh year of the Football and Fitness Transition Year course run by the FAI and Fingal County Council.

“The course is a fantastic resource for the students to be able to continue their education but also keep that pathway into football open as they get their education. It's a brilliant opportunity and now with more career opportunities opening up in football, and sport as a whole in Ireland, this could take them on a really promising career path.” 

Course Coordinator Denis Hyland believes the programme is unique in what it offers and the results back up the focus involved: “This is the seventh year of the course, and it has gone from strength to strength. Our graduates get to not only see the intricacies of the game, fine-tune their techniques and tactics, but they get to engage in regular physical conditioning to enhance their endurance, speed, and agility. By integrating their passion for football with a holistic approach to personal growth, these lads are poised to make a lasting impact on and off the field.

”We are very proud to have one of our former students Aidamo Emakhu here today. He is a real inspiration to our current graduates and a fantastic role model for the course. His success really shows that the course is not only helping shape their own futures, but can also inspire others to follow in their footsteps.”

Robert Burns, Director of Community Development and Sports at Fingal said: “These determined TY students have recognised that success in soccer requires more than just raw talent. It demands discipline, perseverance, teamwork, and a strong sense of personal growth. By acknowledging this reality, they are focusing on building their skills not only as athletes but also as responsible and well-rounded individuals.

“Under the guidance of dedicated coaches and mentors, these young graduates are gaining invaluable knowledge and experiences that extend beyond what they learn on the pitch. This course really is a fantastic opportunity that allows them to cultivate a balance between their sporting ambitions and the pursuit of knowledge, and in doing so helps ensure they are well-prepared for a future beyond football.”

Fingal and the FAI recently announced that this August will see the first TY girls course get underway. The two organisations believe this was a logical next step and it will mirror the course structure of the boys. There is great enthusiasm for places on the course, particularly as Ireland’s Women’s National Team will play at the World Cup finals for the first time when the tournament gets underway in Australia this summer.

The TY course provides comprehensive training, mentorship, and educational support to those taking part and is committed to nurturing the talents of the players as well as fostering their personal growth. Students must have permission from their schools to participate in the ground-breaking programme, which along with the likes of Emakhu has also another graduate, Andrew Omobamidele, making his full Senior Ireland debut in September 2021 while Andrew Moran made his Premier League debut for Brighton in January.

Across the year that the TY course was running, students took modules covering Maths and English, as well as learning about topics such as sports psychology and nutrition, and there’s even cooking lessons on how to produce high-performance meals for athletes.

Since launching in 2016, the TY course has been run in the Dublin 15 area of Fingal, with Corduff Sports Centre providing a base for various aspects the course while the students also use TUI Blanchardstown once a week for tactical session and video analysis.  Another important element of the course sees the students giving back some of their new founds skills by conducting coaching session at schools and with community groups across Fingal.