Tributes paid to Irish 'unsung hero' after highly regarded Reading academy boss passes away
The Irish head of the Reading FC academy, Eamonn Dolan, has passed away at 48 after losing his battle with cancer.
The Galway-born Dolan, who won five caps for the Irish U21 team, took charge of the Reading youth development program in 2004. His twin brother is former League of Ireland manager turned pundit, Pat Dolan.
Hundreds of people took to social media to offer their condolences to Dolan's family, while Reading posted a touching tribute on their website.
"Our sincere condolences go out to his family and many, many friends. Eamonn was, and will forever remain, one of our own," the statement said.
"His energy for football was infectious. His enthusiasm for the sport we all love was evident in his every compelling word he uttered. The pride in his work was enviable. And each young player who Eamonn carefully nurtured through our Academy ranks and into professional football will today stand tall as testament to one great man’s total dedication and unassuming but single-minded commitment to his job. Eamonn led by shining example. And most notably, his love for this club was overwhelming."
32 academy players went on to make their first team debut at Reading during Dolan's time at the club. The Royals' first team raised £3000 after Dolan was diagnosed, which was donated to a charity nominated by the youth coach.
Shane Long, an ex-Reading academy graduate, called Dolan an 'unsung hero' according to the club.
FAI Chief Executive John Delaney also expressed his sympathies.
“Eamonn Dolan was a real gentleman and fought a courageous battle against cancer in recent years. It is such sad news to hear of his passing,” said Delaney.
“I have great memories of meeting Eamonn many times at games during his time with Reading. He was just a brilliant person and very engaging. He contributed greatly to the development of many talented Irish players and was very proud of being from Ireland.
“The sympathies of all in Irish football go to Eamonn’s family, his brother Patrick in particular, and his many friends in the game who will be very upset at his untimely death.
“We will rightly pay tribute to Eamonn at our next home international game. May he rest in peace.”