FAI teams up with 'Irish Independent' as official partners
THE Irish Independent has a great history of reporting Irish football from the grassroots up – and now it's official.
The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and Ireland's leading newspaper have teamed up as official partners, promising exciting initiatives for our readers.
Manager Martin O'Neill and assistant Roy Keane were on hand to announce the new partnership ahead of their second home game in charge of the Republic of Ireland when they take on Serbia in the Aviva Stadium tomorrow.
FAI CEO John Delaney, Irish Independent editor Claire Grady and Independent Newspapers Ireland group marketing director Geoff Lyons were also present to make the announcement at FAI headquarters in Abbotstown, north-west Dublin.
It comes as a new chapter opened for the sport – with the turning of the sod yesterday for the FAI's academy in Abbotstown.
Phase one will include five full-sized grass pitches and one artificial pitch, which are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The National Training Centre will be used for elite player and referee training, including international squads and coach education. Sports Minister Leo Varadkar joined Mr Delaney and Mr O'Neill for the official ceremony to turn the sod.
They were assisted by Brendan Bermingham of the Dublin District Schoolboys' League (DDSL) and National Sports Campus Development Authority chairman Sean Benton.
Mr Varadkar said the academy was needed as part of the national centre of excellence at the Abbotstown campus.
Mr Delaney expressed his hope that the academy would become a "conveyor belt" for the best footballers of the future.
Referring to the partnership with the Irish Independent, the FAI chief said it was a "fantastic development for both the association and, indeed, football in Ireland".
He added: "The Irish Independent is a great newspaper and provides extensive coverage to football nationwide."
Editor Claire Grady said: "From grassroots all the way to the national team, lovers of football turn to our writers for the definitive word on the beautiful game. We're delighted to continue our support of Irish football."