As preparations are well under way for the coming season at Real Football Academy, we caught up with academy manager Ray Geoghegan to get his thoughts on last season and what we can look forward to in the coming season.
At the start of last season and the beginning of Real Football Academy, what were you expectations and goals?
When we opened our doors at the beginning of last season, our main aim was to help develop the football ability of our local players within the town of Mullingar. Our philosophy will always be to develop confident, creative young players with a good sportsmanship mentality. We also feel that by creating a good learning environment and good habits on the pitch, we will also be able to aid the development of our young player's personality off the pitch.
What type of player has come into Real Football Academy last season and have you being happy with their progress?
Real Football Academy works with players of all levels & abilities. There is only one criteria here when you come in and join us and that is to work hard, develop your game and to enjoy your football. We are very happy with the progress of our players from last season. We have also been in contact with their club coaches who have congratulated us on the work we are doing as they too have seen a positive change in some of their players.
You have had a busy year both on and off the pitch. What would you say was your highlight of the year, maybe you have a more than one?
It would probably be very unfair to single out one thing during the course of our first season. We had so many great highlights. We had our launch day back in June 2015 and had the pleasure of having the best keeper in the Airtricity League Gary Rogers (Dundalk) down on the day. We then had two of our development squad players Cian Molloy and Brandon Greene take part in the Chelsea FC ID event in Dublin. To have our players invited into this was something special. In Feburary, a few of our coaches had the pleasure of visiting Ipswich Town. A home a way from home, a fantastic club from top to bottom, from kitchen staff to Mick McCarthy, we had the pleasure of meeting everyone and gaining a real insight of the day to day operation of a professional club. A month later in March, two of our senior ladies academy girls Zöe Mooney and Nicole Geoghegan attended a Glasgow Celtic FC Elite Player Assesment Day. The girls acquitted themselves very well and were delighted with the experience. Zöe then just recently went on to represent her club and our academy whilst playing for the Midland Schoolboys/girls league at the Gaynor Cup competition in Limerick. If I was pushed I would have to say that gaining our partnership with Glasgow Celtic FC in April has to be the highlight of the season. To be involved with such an iconic and global club is far more than we could have imagined in our opening season. Our partnership with their Internatioal Academy adds something different to what we can offer and more importantly may open some doors for our young players. Celtic also now boast a very progressive and successful ladies academy so our girls too can get in on the act.
Wow it really was a busy season. So with season two already around the corner, what can we expect from Real Football Academy this season?
We at Real Football Academy are always trying to push the boundaries and improve both on and off the pitch. We as both players and coaches are always looking to do things a little bit better each time. We were very lucky to gain a new main sponsor who has purchased a new match day kit for our senior boys squad. This season we hope to get some more game time & friendlies in along with our work on the training pitch.
Now that you have become part of the Celtic international academy programme, will we see some work between the two in the coming season?
Yes it's funny you say that, as before our new season even kicks off we will have eight senior academy players that will have attended the Celtic Elite Camp in Dublin in early July. We are very proud to have eight of our players involved and you will hear more on this in the coming week.
We will also be hosting a Celtic run camp during one of the school holidays but dates are yet to be finalised. So yes it's safe to say we will be looking forward to working with Celtic in the coming season.
Thank you for your time and we hope that season two can be every bit as successful as season one. Have you anything to add to finish off.?
We would just like to thank everyone from players, parents, coaches, friends, family and all our connections from Ipswich to Glasgow, from Dundalk to Arklow Utd for contributing to our first season. Don't forget to keep up to date on all our social media and watch out for our kit unveiling in the coming few weeks.