Centre of Excellence starting point for WNT stars
On the male side, it is known as the Emerging Talent Programme and has helped produce players such as Robbie Brady, Aaron Connolly and Troy Parrott. On the female side, it is proving to be just as successful.
Of the 23 players in the current Ireland Women’s Senior Team squad to play Germany this week, 15 of them have come through Centres around the country.
While many girls starting out in football will begin their journey with either the INTERSPORT Elverys Summer Soccer Schools or Aviva Soccer Sisters camps, the naturally gifted players will be invited to the Centres to further hone their skills.
There are 24 League academies from 24 different Leagues feeding into nine Centres, which are overseen by Ireland Women’s Under-19 Head Coach Dave Connell in his role as FAI Girls' Centre of Excellence National Coordinator.
When Connell took over the programme in 2011 there were just two Centres in operation, so to see its growth and impact on the Ireland international set-up is something to be proud of.
"It's great to see so many players who have come through the Girls' Centre of Excellence be involved with the Republic of Ireland Women's Senior Team. It's important to provide a pathway for the best players to receive the best coaching, no matter which part of the country they are from, and the fact that we have 15 graduates in the current Ireland squad shows that the hard work is paying off,” said Connell.
"It is a credit to all of the coaches & dedicated FAI Development Officers around the country who run the different Centres that we have been able to play a part in the development of these players. There is no doubt that each of the players involved in the Senior squad were talented players from an early age, but they needed help along the way and that is what the Centres are there for.
"We work hard to identify the best players and get the best coaches in women's football to work closely with them so that they can go on to greater things. Our national teams, from Under-15s up to the Seniors, are certainly benefitting from this attention to detail and it's crucial that we keep this work going to keep developing future star players.”
There are currently Centres in Cork, Donegal, Dublin North, Dublin South, Galway, Limerick, Mayo, Waterford and Westmeath.
Girls’ Centre of Excellence Graduates in Ireland WNT Squad
Niamh Reid-Burke – Dublin North Centre
Aine O'Gorman – Dublin North Centre
Diane Caldwell – Dublin Centre
Louise Quinn – Dublin North Centre
Jamie Finn – Dublin North Centre
Denise O'Sullivan – Cork Centre
Megan Connolly – Cork Centre
Niamh Farrelly – Dublin North Centre
Katie McCabe – Dublin North Centre
Heather Payne – West Centre
Rianna Jarrett – South East Centre
Hayley Nolan – South Dublin Centre
Amber Barrett – Donegal Centre
Leanne Kiernan – North Dublin Centre
Ellen Molloy – South East Centre
Germany v Republic of Ireland
UEFA 2022 Women’s European Championship Qualifying – Group I
Saturday, September 19
KO 13:00 (Irish Time)