Saturday 17 August 2019

Players see opportunity for 'massive change' in League

Participants at the Aviva Soccer Sisters camp in Ringsend yesterday are (l-r) Sally O’Halloran (aged 6), Shauna Joyce (8), Sarah McGilligan (8), Penny Roche (7) and Keris Uzell (7). Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Participants at the Aviva Soccer Sisters camp in Ringsend yesterday are (l-r) Sally O’Halloran (aged 6), Shauna Joyce (8), Sarah McGilligan (8), Penny Roche (7) and Keris Uzell (7). Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Daniel McDonnell

During a month of turmoil for Irish football, the games have become a sub-plot to the bigger picture.

The headline act from last Friday night's League of Ireland fixtures was the confiscation of a 'Delaney Out' flag in Cork.

A congested period in the season has been overshadowed by the chatter around the direction of the FAI.

Still, there are people within the league who see the current problems as a chance for the sport to start again and get things right.

Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rogers is the chairman of the PFAI and was behind a strongly-worded statement which went out in the aftermath of the FAI's disastrous date at the Oireachtas.

Within his own dressing-room, there was anger at the FAI's failure to answer questions.

Appetite

He got in touch with the PFAI chief Stephen McGuinness - an adversary of the FAI hierarchy - and wondered if there was an appetite within the union's Management Committee to put out a statement.

What followed was the 'something rotten in the FAI' missive that added to the chorus of voices seeking action.

"I was angry about the way the FAI were able to go in and delay the whole process and manipulate it and not answer the questions that people wanted answers to," says Rogers.

"I spoke to Stephen and felt we had to say something and comment on the situation. People are looking for transparency and that's going to be fundamental to the changes that are on the way."

Rogers is energised by this topic having previously completed a thesis on the governance of League of Ireland structures.

This ties in with the recent attempts of the Premier Clubs Alliance (PCA) to gain an insight into the inner workings of the league.

That has been a slow process but Rogers senses that the door can now open to a better working environment.

He also endorses the idea of a player representative being a part of any new FAI board structure going forward - especially with the League of Ireland in mind.

"Players are major stakeholders within the game and it's important their voices are heard," said the Meath native, speaking on the new LOI Weekly Podcast. "Their opinions are valid because of their experience of different clubs and the running of clubs and the league in general.

"The international team, for the most part, is run very well and looked after very well.

"But the League of Ireland is elite level in our country and it hasn't been high on the agenda for the FAI."

Rogers' fellow Management Committee member Shane Supple - who retired last November - endorsed his sentiments.

"Hopefully, it's an opportunity to make a massive change," said Supple. "It's not just at board level, it's all the whole way down through the levels."

On the pitch, Rogers' Dundalk team have a bit of work to do to catch leaders Shamrock Rovers who travel to face second-placed Derry City tonight with both sides having exceeded expectations this term.

Dundalk are ten points off the pace - with a game in hand - ahead of the visit of Finn Harps with Rogers admitting that Monday's injury-time win over Bohemians could help to generate some momentum.

For the full interview with Rogers and Supple, go to independent.ie/podcasts or search LOI Weekly on iTunes/Soundcloud

 

Kevin’s ready for Academy Cup

St Kevin’s Boys today kick off their U-14 Academy Cup, a prestigious tournament featuring Celtic and Athletic Bilbao.

The host club, which produced the likes of Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady and Liam Brady, contest the first game against Watford (10.0) followed by West Bromwich Albion against Celtic (11.30am).

At 4.0, Bayer Leverkusen face Watford before Bilbao go up against Celtic at 5.30.

The action at Shanowen Road in Santry continues tomorrow with two more pool games and the semi-finals and a big crowd is expected for the final on Sunday afternoon (1.30).

Irish Independent

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