BY JJ HURLEY
BALLINHASSIG AFC and Kinsale AFC are both offering exciting opportunities to ambitious coaches looking to take their careers to the next level.
Ironically, both clubs have just suffered a similar fate as the South County teams were relegated from the ranks of the Munster Senior Division One League.
For director of football at Ballinhassig, Dáire Couglan, this year's drop came as something of a perfect storm.
'We were missing some top-quality players, we'd a lot of bad injuries, and we couldn't get some of the guys we wanted in over the line,’ Coughlan remarked.
It was undoubtedly a disappointment for Ballinhassig, a feeling mirrored by Kinsale senior goalkeeper and club PRO Stephen O'Neill. However, O'Neill quickly plays up the club's positives.
'Our facilities are good and we have a strong underage coming through that's impressive, but sorting the top of the tree is the next step,’ he said. Pointing to the underage success at U14 and U15, O'Neill explains Kinsale are winning trophies, but harnessing this success at the adult level is the challenge.
While the recent negative results are unwelcome, both clubs see their current vacant managerial positions – Kinsale at senior level and Ballinhassig at senior and junior level – as an opportunity.
Off the pitch, the South County outfits have demonstrated their ambitions. Kinsale has recently opened an impressive clubhouse and is preparing an application for planning permission for an astroturf pitch. Ballinhassig also has similar plans, with the initial fundraising efforts complete to develop its astroturf facility.
On the pitch, Ballinhassig has recognised that the fundamentals must be correct and has encouraged its underage coaches to complete FAI-sponsored coaching courses.
The club has also tapped into support from the FAI's coaching coordinator, Bandon native Niall O’Regan, who, Dáire Couglan said, ‘has always been open to help clubs in the local area and to help people like myself and advise them on coaching.'
In addition, Ballinhassig has an ambitious plan for the junior and senior teams, with the recent AGM backing an initiative by Couglan to merge the teams' training.
'The senior and junior teams have to work together, but integrating it will be tricky,' he remarked.
Of course, nothing is set in stone, and he acknowledges an incoming coach may want to alter the plan.
For both sides, the attraction is the clean slate on offer.
'It's a blank canvass, there are no expectations in winning a league, it's building from the ground up, with young players putting the club on the right path,’ Stephen O'Neill said.
It's already a proven path for coaches seeking to make their way up the managerial table and make their mark at these clubs, with former Ballinhassig boss Paul Farrell taking charge at Cork City Ladies for a time.
While the clubs have held discussions with interested parties, the vacancies remain. Anyone seeking to apply, contact Stephen O'Neill, Kinsale AFC (085-7853156) or Dáire Couglan, Ballinhassig AFC (087-6925486).