Monday 26 August 2019

Devlin: League needs united front

Pat Devlin. Photo: Sportsfile
Pat Devlin. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

League of Ireland stalwart Pat Devlin has tentatively welcomed Niall Quinn's proposal for change but stressed that all clubs need to be part of any process.

The Cabinteely director of football and first team boss was speaking at the launch of the club's new academy for U-12 level which will focus as their starting point for competing in the national underage leagues.

Former Ireland star Quinn wants the league to move away from the FAI as a stand-alone entity, with the construction of academies for all 20 clubs as part of the process.

However, he has also conceded that a commercial plan for the future might result in debates about a smaller senior structure. Devlin believes clubs need to work together, not in pockets.

"I know Niall is talking about 'a brand' and I think the FAI has never really looked at it as a brand," said Devlin. "It is a brand. It needs to be fixed. How we fix it will only take everyone together at the table.

"It's not going to take a few rebels or anything like that, we all need to be together and be singing off the same hymn sheet. I think Niall has come up with great ideas. In the future there will be changes, no doubt about it.

"You're only as strong as your weakest link and maybe it's us. I just hope Cabinteely can be part of that change."

"I'm a great believer in change. You take Shamrock Rovers, they've skipped on another distance from everybody else because of what they've done (with their academy) in Roadstone.

Weakest "There is no point in three or four doing it, we all need to be brought on, you're only as strong as your weakest link and maybe it's us. I just hope Cabinteely can be part of that change and if that opportunity is there maybe the people in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown can take note of what is happening and we can have a brand in this area."

Cabinteely's senior team were accepted into the League of Ireland in 2015. They had a well-established underage structure with a variety of teams at all levels.

They now want to take a step forward by introducing a more intensive schedule for 65 kids per year at U-12 level. The well-travelled ex-League of Ireland midfielder Gary Dempsey - who also spent time in Scotland and England - will be the head coach.

Cabinteely still have no ground of their own and play their games out of Blackrock College's facility in Stradbrook. Long term, they hope to secure their own stadium but Devlin acknowledges they need to become a bigger presence in their community to achieve that goal.

"We're trying to change the attitude," he says. "The catchment area here is unbelievable."

Irish Independent

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