Friday 27 April 2018

Grant for Hoops academy a big talking point

In recent weeks, Duff has assembled his squad at 6am for training. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
In recent weeks, Duff has assembled his squad at 6am for training. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

There were plenty of raised eyebrows in League of Ireland circles over the weekend following the granting by the FAI of €180,000 towards the Shamrock Rovers academy project in Kingswood.

Financial support for infrastructural projects usually stems from government sports capital programmes or UEFA funding but neither of these were cited in the FAI's announcement, suggesting that the cash is coming directly from the association.

Such a move is curious given the FAI's financial ills, which continues to see them €40m in debt, and the range of other initiatives undertaken by fellow League of Ireland clubs in Dublin and around the country.

Rovers have also been boosted by an interest-free loan of €1.5m channelled through the Wilson Family Trust and Pepper Group's Seumas Dawes.

The majority of this cash injection, announced 18 months ago, was earmarked for their academy based at the Roadstone sports and social club.

The FAI money, according to Rovers, will allow them complete phase two of their development which includes a "football building".

On the pitch, Rovers have put plenty of resources into their U-15 national league squad, coached by Damien Duff. The former Ireland international was heavily involved in approaching some of the best talent and has introduced some concepts previously untested in these parts.

In recent weeks, Duff has assembled his squad at 6am for training. Once the session is complete, the players are supplied with breakfast before heading off to their respective schools.

Developing players for the Rovers first-team remains the priority of Duff, who has found the standard of competition to be strong. From their opening five games, the Hoops have won once, drawing and losing twice.

UCD's victory over Rovers last Friday was their first of the season.

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