GPA Jobs Board & Mentors.ie Launch

When I was 18 years of age I remember two clear focuses on my mind: (1) playing soccer to the best of my ability and (2) getting into UCD's commerce course. That same very year  I was fortunate enough to have picked up a few caps to my name for underage soccer against England, Wales and Australia and when my Leaving Cert results came through I was accepted into UCD's commerce course.  At the time I can remember thinking "ok so now that I have got into UCD, what about the soccer???".

At the time I had 3 options that formed a cross roads in my life (1) move to Dublin take up a 4 year contract offered by Ray Tracey to join Shamrock Rovers and try break into the first team (which subsequently went on to win the league that year), (2) take up a soccer scholarship offer to UCD, including accomadation, fees and pocket money and join their tour in 1992 to Singapore and Australia or (3) try get a career in England were Stoke City, Ipswich and Notthingham Forest has been sniffing around but with no real offers to talk about.

I paid a visit to my Mum's friend's son, Jim Beglin, Irish International and double winning left full back for Liverpool and he gave me some sound advice: "If you're good enough, and they want you [UK Clubs], they'll try sign you when your 21, like they did Kevin Moran" - who had also got a UCD Commerces degree, and an All Ireland medal with the Dubs before he went on to play for Manchester United.

I decided I'd take Jim's advice. And to this day I don't regret it. I didn't think I was good enough to make it at the very top levels of the sport anyway and as things turned out I broke my legs twice in different games, both in tackles, the second of which put an end to my League of Ireland career prematurly when I was 26.

As such I know what it is like to dream about sport and aspire to play at the highest level. With that in mind I consider myself very fortune, a player that never went to England but at least one that got a good strong education including my Masters in the UCDs Michael Smurfitt college and one that had a good crack of the whip playing here in Ireland and had something to fall back on. I have two friends who went to England at 17 and 18, never made and came home and have been out of work long term for quite some time. In fact, I read only a few months ago on the Net a shocking stat that only 3% of all young men tha go to England and try to play professional soccer make any sort of living from the game either in the Vauxhall conference or in any of the other professional leagues including Scotland. With the constant vissitudes of the League of Ireland with Cork City in big trouble at the moment it's hard to even try make a living from the game here in Ireland for those that want to apply their trade at home. With that in mind I fully support what the GPA have done with the announcement of their proactive and pioneering job board, here. It's terrible to think that men like Tony Browne who has dedicated the best years of his life to intercounty Waterford hurling now finds himself out of work like many more. A lot of these amateur players were faced with dificult decisions to pursue careers or sport and some followed their hearts and their dreams a corollary of which was a stultified or still born career.

I'd encourage employers out their who may have jobs on offer that may match the skills of some of these talented GAA players to support this initative by going on site and sourcing on the credentials of some of the players that are present in the database. Also, you can post some of the jobs you have on offer up there as well.

You can find out more on the Mentors.ie web site here