Monday 18 December 2017

Children delighted McGrath ordered to train them

Brian Hutton

Children at a small amateur soccer club are ecstatic at a judge's order for Paul McGrath to coach them instead of being prosecuted for public order offences.

Youngsters from the under 7s team up to the under 18s side at Tullamore Town FC are not old enough to remember the former Republic of Ireland international's heyday on the pitch.

But Barry Hennessy, club secretary, said the one-time Manchester United and Aston Villa player remains such a hero that the children can not wait to run out with the troubled star.

"Paul McGrath is such a big name, that he is known all over the place and the kids will know him even though its been nearly 20 years since he was playing," he said.

"He's such a legend the kids will be really excited about it."

As they prepared for the visit of the celebrity coach, the club backed McGrath's reputation.

"I don't want to comment on Paul's troubles," said Mr Hennessy, a 40-year-old factory worker who is one of a small band of volunteers running the club.

"But the good in Paul far outweighs any misdemeanours he has been in court for today."

Tullamore Town, which does not even have a team in Ireland's national league, is still awaiting formal confirmation that McGrath will train the youth sides for a day as a court-ordered reparation for a drunken outburst during a family wedding.

And even though the home to the Leinster League and Midlands Schoolboy league sides has hosted greats like former Ireland and Celtic goalkeeper Packie Bonner in the past, the club was shocked and delighted at the prospect of McGrath's arrival.

"It will be great to see a man of the stature of Paul McGrath coming to the club," said Mr Hennessy.

"It will be a great boost for the kids."

Tullamore Town, established in 1941, has three senior men's sides and one senior women's team as well as a number of youth squads.

Six years ago, as part of a land swap deal, they moved to impressive new grounds and facilities on the outskirts of the Midlands town, home to former taoiseach Brian Cowen.

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