Coaches' Insight | U19 Head Coach Tom Mohan

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Coaches' Insight | U19 Head Coach Tom Mohan

Last year Tom Mohan led his Under-19s team to the Semi-Final of the UEFA European Under-19 Championships. That feat, as well as a stunning unbeaten qualifying campaign saw Ireland reach 10th in the UEFA rankings. In his Coaches' Insight interview Tom talks about being prepared for coaching as a player by former Ireland underage manager Sean McCaffery, the favourite game he coached in and the legacy of Jack Chartlon's team.
19th May 2020

Name: Tom Mohan

Role: Republic of Ireland Under-19 Head Coach

Began current role: 2016

Coaching history
Football, GAA and multi-sports coaching in schools and clubs
FAI Development Officer
League and Regional Emerging Talent Coach
Republic of Ireland Home Based Emerging Talent Under-17s Coach
Republic of Ireland Under-16s Coach
Republic of Ireland Under-17s Coach
Republic of Ireland Under-17s Head Coach

What is the one key attribute you need as a coach?
Knowledge of the game and knowledge of your players is key. No two players are the same and you need to know how to deal with the person as an individual and understand how they can learn most effectively to get the best from them. 

What is your favourite thing about the job?
Working with highly talented players, which is a testament to all the coaches who have worked with these players prior to coming into U19’s. Additionally working with highly skilled staff and providing people with the opportunity to represent their country – it’s a great honour.

Any pre-match rituals?
I like time to myself in the changing room while the players are doing their pre-match warm up. It allows me time to reflect and prepare. It’s important for me to do this.

What one message would you give to a player to keep with them throughout their career? 
To honestly assess your own performances and be open to learning more about the game. You’ve got to be honest with your own self-reflection and your coaches’ feedback. Reinforce the positives from what you do well and work relentlessly on your Improvement goals. 

Which coach/manager – from any sport – have you taken your greatest inspiration from?
Former Ireland underage manager Sean McCaffery. I was very fortunate to have worked with him both as a young Player and as a coach. while I was a young player at Oriel Celtic in Monaghan his training sessions were so enjoyable and delivered in such a manner that he was not only preparing us to be better players, but also future coaches due to the level of detail being explained at the time. 

I was also very fortunate to coach under Sean with the U17s and experienced this level of detail even more so at International level and especially when qualifying for the U17 Finals in 2008 from an elite group that included Germany and Portugal. 

Sean brought Oriel Celtic to tournaments in Norway, Belgium, Holland and Sweden in the early 1990s  and was doing video analysis 30 years ago. He would bring us into a meeting room to go back through a video of our previous game and do a Q&A with the players throughout the video, before we headed out onto the pitch for training sessions relevant to the analysed game. I’m very fortunate to have gained so much from his knowledge and inspiration.  

Favourite match you coached and why?
It’s toss-up between two.

The first is a 2-1 win over Netherlands in Longford in 2018 to top the qualifying group. The group of players took the information from the training ground and team meetings into the game from start to finish. It was a testament to their attitude, ability and intelligence to display such a high level of performance against a top-class Dutch side.

The second is the 2-1 win over Czech Republic in our last group game to qualify for the Semi-Finals of the European Championships in 2019. I was especially impressed with the second half as the stakes were so high and we were up against a much older and physically stronger side in extremely hot conditions. For us to get a grip of the game when under pressure and bounce back so quickly to score the winning goal immediately after conceding an equaliser showed great character, ability and maturity from such a young group of Players.

What team or match from any era do you wish you could have coached?
The Irish team of the late 80s and early 90s under Jack Charlton. The lasting imprint that team left on Irish football was amazing. Of any game from that period I wish I could have been involved in, it would be Euro ’88 and the win over England in Stuttgart. Any player who was wearing a green jersey around that time was looked up to as a hero. It can’t be understated the belief and hope that Irish team instilled in the whole country.