Daryl Horgan, Seán Maguire, Andy Boyle – the three most recent exports from the League of Ireland to be capped at international level.
What else have they in common? They all continued their third level education while playing the League of Ireland. In the case of Horgan and Boyle it involved participating on an FAI/ETB Player Development course, while Maguire enrolled on a Sports Management course in Carlow IT.
In collaboration with the FAI, a number of these FAI/ETB Level 5 courses have been established = Clondalkin, Cabra, Irishtown (all Dublin), Castlebar (Mayo), Blarney, Carrigaline, Ringmahon (all Cork) and Limerick – to allow players to develop their footballing skills while also receiving education in lifesaving, coaching and strength and conditioning.
Successful completion of the course allows participants to access a Level 7 or 8 degree course at an IT or University. The only FAI-linked course at a third level institution is the Sports Management degree course offered by IT Carlow.
The course was first established in 2009, under the guidance of FAI technical firector at the time, Packie Bonner. Another goalkeeping legend in the northwest, current Sligo Rovers and former Mayo GAA stopper Micháel Schlingermann, was one of the participants on the course.
Schlingermann has gone on to hold several positions working with the FAI before turning professional in 2016. He also began his third level education on an FAI/ETB Player Development course so his pathway is a very relevant example to highlight how the FAI play a role in linking the career of players both on and off the pitch.
Schlingermann was part of the Emerging Talent squad in the Mayo region at 16 years of age and was made aware of the ETB course in Castlebar where the coaches were the legendary Leo Tierney and Mickey Feeney.
His course lasted three years and provided participants, including Dundalk’s John Mountney, with coaching from qualified FAI mentors as well as certificates in gym instruction (ITEC), pool lifeguard and FAI coaching certifiates.
He then received a scholarship to attend IT Carlow for a place on the inaugural Sports Management course. Here, Schlingermann combined his studies with coach education (offered on the course on Fridays) and developed his playing career.
Despite being offered a contract with Sligo Rovers for the 2010 season, thanks to contacts within the college, Schlingermann was afforded the opportunity to join Athlone Town, where he ended up replacing the departed Chris Bennion as first-choice goalkeeper and played 16 First Division games at 19 years of age.
He continued his footballing career at Athlone Town, signed for a short period at Monaghan United and, upon their demise, penned a contract at Drogheda United. All this time he was also part of an all conquering IT Carlow side which featured, at various times during the period 2009-13, Seán Maguire, Shane Tracy, Danny Ledwith, Gary Shaw, Adam Hanlon, Craig Sexton and Noel Haverty amongst others.
Four of the former Wexford Youths players – Danny Furlong, Danny Ledwith, Andy Mulligan and Conor O’Keefe – who travelled to New Zealand in the summer of 2016 to combine coaching and playing soccer were all students on the sports management course and they linked up with their former Carlow IT lecturer Paul O’Reilly, who currently holds a senior coaching position in New Zealand.
Other graduates of the course include Gary Sweeney, who is a video analyst at Manchester United, while Leeds United, Malmo and Reading Academy all employ coaches who have a Sports Management degree from Carlow IT.
Within the FAI currently, Gary Seery (Communications), Craig Sexton (goalkeeper coach education) and Ross Kenny (coach education) have completed the course along with Shamrock Rovers’ Gary Shaw, who has recently turned professional after spending time in the marketing department.
Upon completion of his own course in 2013, former Kiltimagh netminder Schlingermann was accepted on an internship to assist his former lecturer Ger Dunne in the FAI. The following year he worked in Abbottstown alongside Ger McDermott and organised the successful FAI Summer Schools of 2014 and 2015.
In 2015, he put his coaching education – which IT Carlow offered up to UEFA’B’ Licence standard – into practice as he coached the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team goalkeepers. During this period he continued to shine in the Premier Division for Drogheda United, earning a place on the PFAI Team of the Season in 2015.
Ahead of the 2016 season, Schlingermann signed professional terms with Sligo Rovers where he continues to put his skills learned at IT Carlow to the test as he coaches under-12 and under-13 goalkeepers on the Regional Emerging Talent squad from March to December as well as coaching the same age group’s Elite national goalkeepers on a weekly basis at the AUL complex.
Having continued his education through a three-year Player Development Course, four year sports management degree and a number of jobs within the FAI, Schlingermann is well-placed to have a successful career involved with Irish soccer when his career as a professional ends.
At only 26 years of age he’ll be hoping to be keeping clean sheets for another decade!