Director of Football at the FAI Marc Canham is seeking to introduce a unified calendar schedule. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Football family

'My own local club would be gone in the morning, and so many more clubs like it'

A ‘unified’ summer soccer season would have disastrous repercussions for the game, the Football Family podcast heard.

THE PLAN FOR summer soccer to extend across all levels of the game was up for discussion on today’s Football Family, a podcast for subscribers to the 42.  

Shane Keegan, who has managed Cobh Ramblers and Galway United and is now head of games development for Laois GAA, said the plan could severely hinder the appeal of the sport in many parts of the country, where kids still play their season in the traditional September-April months. 

Director of Football at the FAI Marc Canham is seeking to introduce a unified calendar schedule by January 2026.  

“I saw this roundly being applauded in most of the reaction that I saw,” Keegan said. 

“Maybe the people saying that was a good idea were from certain parts of the country. I can tell you from where I am (Laois) it would be an absolute disaster, an absolute unmitigated disaster. 

“I’m telling you now, my own local club would be gone in the morning, and so many more clubs like it.

“If my young fella’s U9 soccer match is on at the same time as his U9 hurling or Gaelic football match, like, in rural areas, there’s only one winner there. The GAA wins every time.” 

Keegan added: “I completely admit, I am purely looking at this through our situation, where I am, but I know that would apply to Laois, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Offaly, Westmeath, Longford. 

“I would look after (my son) Conor’s U9 soccer team and I would look after Conor’s U9 hurling team. What I am used to is from September until about March we’re out every Saturday playing soccer and from March till September we’re out every weekend playing hurling or Gaelic football. 

“The fact that those two things are going to be set during the same period, I get all the other pluses, but somebody just explain to me how this is going to work for all of the seven to 11 year olds in all of these counties . . . Are they being told at seven years of age, now you’ve got to choose? 

“I know I’m employed by one of those associations, but there is probably going to one winner in the vast majority of cases. 

“Every match that we play is 11am on a Saturday. Are we looking for them to play one at 11am and then dart to the next one and be there for 2pm, 1pm to play their second match of the day? I mean that’s far from ideal either I would have thought. 

“I’m not saying I have a solution. Every single talented soccer player we have in our club is also a talented hurler or Gaelic footballer. Every single one of them. And nine times out of ten, I know if those two things are going to start clashing it’s hurling and Gaelic football they’re going to choose.  

“Which means forget about the Shane Longs of the world. Forget about the Kevin Doyles, they’re gone lads, they’re gone. If the two things are clashing – Shane Long would admit, Kevin Doyle would admit . . . Seamus Coleman, I would say that at seven or eight years of age he had to choose, I’d say there’s a hell of a chance his Dad would say Gaelic football is the big thing up here, that’s what we’re going with.”  

On today’s podcast, Keegan was joined by David Sneyd and Gavin Cooney for a big preview on the LOI season, which kicks off this weekend.  

Can anybody knock Rovers off their perch? Can St Pats’ new signings gel? Can Derry step it up a level? Who is in danger of the drop and who will finish top scorer in 2024? Tune in or sign up to hear the discussion. 

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