BY DENIS HURLEY
BANDON native Niall O’Regan is looking forward to his next challenge having secured a ‘massive role’ as the FAI’s new coach education manager.
Having most recently been the Cork regional manager of the joint FAI/ETB (Educational and Training Board) academy, O’Regan has also held a variety of managerial roles. Not juggling his time between different tasks will be a benefit, he believes.
‘It’s a new chapter,’ he says.
‘For the last 15 years, I’ve worked hard to climb the various rungs and it has been enjoyable if a bit difficult. When you’re doing a few different things, you can end up working seven nights a week. This is a massive role but I’m looking forward to giving all my emphasis to the one job.’
A talented player, O’Regan was part of the first intake in the soccer academy at Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa and played with Bandon, Kilren Celtic and Castleview before his career was ended due to injury in 2001.
After that, his focus turned to coaching and he earned his UEFA ‘B’ and ‘A’ licences in 2006 and 2011 respectively.
In addition, he graduated from the sports studies and physical education course in UCC with first-class honours and currently is undergoing a four-year research study PhD in UCC on coaching pedagogy, dealing with transition from playing to coaching.
In managerial roles, 33-year-old O’Regan has guided the fortunes of Cork City Women’s FC and led Bandon into the Premier Division of the Munster Senior League.
Crosshaven and Knockavilla are two other club sides to benefit from his wisdom along with the Cork AUL and Munster Senior League representative sides in the Oscar Traynor Cup and Michael Ward Trophy respectively and Munster’s interprovincial squad.
At varsity level, he has been involved with CIT’s women’s side and UCC’s men. Having reached such a lofty post now, he reserves special praise for those who helped him to get there.
‘I’ve had excellent mentors, such as Mick Conroy, Liam Murphy, John Caulfield, Frank Kelleher and my two supervisors in my PhD, Dr Fiona Chambers in UCC and Dr Brian McCullick in the University of Georgia,’ O’Regan said.
‘I couldn’t thank Bandon enough, especially Jim McCarthy, who gave me the opportunity to manage the senior team for the first time. A lot of people might have said that a more experienced manager was needed but thankfully it worked out.’
The next step is now teaching the coaches around the country, but that doesn’t mean that O’Regan’s own footballing education will stop.
‘I’ll be based in Abbotstown,’ he says, ‘but there’ll be a lot of travel. I’ll be visiting other countries to see how they do things there and how we can improve here. Putting steps in place for coaches, and for players who want to become coaches, is the key thing.
‘I’m very excited about working closely with Ruud Dokter and look forward to learning from a man of such experience.’