Bandon man wins prestigious FAI award
BY DENIS HURLEY
BANDON soccer coach Richard Holland is a busy man right now, but he couldn't be enjoying it more.
Back in June, he was in charge of the Cork Schoolboys' League U14 team that reached the semi-finals of the Kennedy Cup, a performance which saw Holland claim the FAI Noel O'Reilly Coach of The Year Award for amateur coaches.Â
From there, he was straight into action in his new role as manager of Bandon AFC's first team, competing in Division 2 of the Munster Senior League.
As if that wasn't enough on his plate â as well as becoming a father recently â he has also been added to Cormac Cotter's management team with the Cork City U19s.Â
It's hard to know where to start in terms of parsing all of that, but the national award â the first Corkman to win it â is probably the best place.
âI was surprised to be nominated,' Holland says, âit was Jason Donohue, the Ireland U15 manager, who put my name forward.
âWe had a good campaign at the Kennedy Cup and I suppose it got me a lot of exposure.'
Cork reached the last four of the inter-league competition at the University of Limerick, losing 2-0 to the Dublin & District Schoolboys' League.
âA lot of people said it was the âreal' final,' Holland says.
âNeither team had conceded a goal before that game and it just came down to Dublin take two chances in the last 15 minutes.
âI wouldn't change anything, though. We had a great campaign.Â
We looked at around 140 players and had loads of trials to whittle the panel down, it was a long process.
âWe played a lot of friendlies against U15 teams to test the lads and I think that that stood to them.'
It was another forward step in Holland's coaching career, which stretches back 14 years.
âI started in the FAI summer camps when I was 16 for pocket money,' he says.
âI played U21 for Cork City then but I suffered a few injuries and got into more coaching, I caught the bug and worked with schoolboys' and schoolgirls' teams, Bandon youths and the Cork City women's team.
âYou learn all aspects of what's involved and I picked up a lot of experience but there was loads of help too.
âMick Conroy and the late Paul Bannon were massive influences on me in the FAI Soccer Academy, Stuart Ashton too, and obviously Niall O'Regan, another Bandon man.'
Having been assistant manager to previous Bandon boss Peter Jones as well as playing until recently, Holland â who has completed his UEFA âB' Licence and is currently working towards the âA' Licence â is very familiar with what awaits in his new role with his home club.
âI'll be managing a lot of guys who were my team-mates,' he says, âso that's a challenge, as well as the fact that two of them are my brothers!
âWe've had a good pre-season though, I feel I've transitioned well and I'm looking forward to it.'
Just in case there was any chance of free time though, the call came from John Caulfield asking if Holland would come on board with the City U19s.
âI couldn't say no,' he says, âJohn is an idol to me, and when you look at how he progressed from Avondale United to managing in the League of Ireland, it shows you there's a pathway there.
âI'd just accepted the Bandon job so I had to ask permission to take this on too, but everyone was very supportive and I was delighted to get involved.
âThe U19s have a summer season so there's not a massive overlap, but I'm enjoying combining the two.'