On Wednesday 29th January IT Carlow will compete in their first ever Sigerson Cup Final- the showpiece competition of Third Level Gaelic Football.
This is an incredible achievement for the institution in a competition dominated by the likes of traditional powerhouses UCC, DCU and UCD in recent seasons. However, it’s not the first time they’ve muscled in on territory where UCD have been amongst the kingpins.
In 2009/10 IT Carlow became the first Third Level institution to have FAI linked degree courses – a three year Level 7 entitled Sports Coaching and Business Management (Soccer) or a four year Level 8 Sports Management and Coaching.
The four year course also involves partnerships from the IRFU and the GAA and has resulted in sporting success on the field, as well as producing qualified candidates for work in the sporting world off the field. This month's Sigerson achievement is the latest in a line which includes domination of Division One in hurling and Women’s soccer – futsal.
In soccer, there have been many students to excel in the League of Ireland including Gary Shaw (St Pat’s, Shamrock Rovers and currently Bray), Micheál Schlingermann (Drogheda, Sligo and currently at Galway), others are playing in England and have been capped at senior international level – Preston’s Seánie Maguire and recent Brighton signing Rianna Jarrett are the most high profile current examples.
Many others are currently involved in management throughout the Underage Leagues, with Craig Sexton (Shelbourne Assistant Manager) and Darren McGarry (Under 15 British Virgin Islands manager) others to have used their IT Carlow education to further their careers in a non-playing capacity.
However, one of the first pieces of silverware achieved by participants of these courses was the CFAI Cup in 2010. Here we take a look at some of the players involved and where they are ten years later.
After spells with Athlone Town and Monaghan United, Kiltimagh’s Schlingermann won Premier Division Goalkeeper of the Year while at Drogheda Utd before returning west to join Sligo Rovers. He has worked with the FAI on the summer camp programmes and trained the WNT goalkeepers while is now a Process Improvement Manufacturing Technician with Allergan and playing with Galway Utd while continuing to tutor and coach for the FAI.
The defender began his League of Ireland career with St Patrick’s Athletic U20s. He played with Athlone Town alongside Schlingermann in 2011 before being snapped up by Wexford Youths boss Shane Keegan who took a number of players from IT Carlow to the League of Ireland during his time in charge of the Slaneysiders. Carr went on to represent Team Ireland in the 2013 World University Games while he is now employed by Manchester City as an Academy Coach.
Birmingham native Elmes made history by scoring Wexford Youths' first competitive goal as a League of Ireland club in 2007. His most productive season at the club was 2012, where he netted 10 league goals in 21 outings, including four on the opening night. The striker has managed Wexford Youths to consecutive Women’s FAI Cup Final successes and won a treble in 2018. He is currently the Assistant Course Leader at IT Carlow.
The former Kilkenny CBS man was with Wexford Youths before being snapped up by Bristol City in the summer of 2010. Having spent time at Ashton Gate and, more successfully, at Exeter City, the utility player was signed from Woking by Dave Robertson at Sligo Rovers in January 2016. After a successful season at the Showgrounds Keohane made the move to Cork City and was instrumental in their league and cup double winning season. His form was noticed by former Sligo Rovers boss John Coleman at Rochdale in 2019 and Keohane recently signed a 2 year deal at the club where Cork's Brian Barry- Murphy is now the manager of a growing Irish squad which also includes another former Wexford and IT Carlow scholar in the shape of Ryan Delaney.
A UEFA B Licence holder originally from South Dublin, Larkin was involved with UCD as an underage player initially before obtaining an MSc in Performance Science and taking care of the Strength and Conditioning needs of the UCD teams from Underage to senior until May 2018 when he joined League of Ireland side Dundalk. The Lilywhites went on to win the league and cup double while he was at the club, as well as contributing to the success of Dublin GAA side Kilmacud Crokes. This success didn’t go unnoticed by English sides and, in 2019, he was appointed Lead Strength and Conditioning Coach at Arsenal WFC- the most successful club in English women’s football- who won the 2018/19 league.
The current FAI Development Officer for Offaly, Seery has been working with the FAI as a Performance Analyst for eight years, spending six with the WNT before joining Stephen Kenny’s Under 21 setup for 2019. He also holds a UEFA ‘A’ Coaching Licence.
Arklow native Ledwith spent time with both UCD and Shamrock Rovers in his teenage years, winning the Setanta Cup in 2013 to add to his LFA Youths Cup triumph with Arklow Town in 2010, before joining Sligo Rovers for the 2014 season. Following forty six league games and 6 goals, the left back joined Wexford Youths for the 2016 season. He left in the summer of 2016 to join a number of Wexford team mates and former IT Carlow Course Leader Paul O Reilly in New Zealand where he currently coaches underage and plays for Southern United.
This is just a sample of how some of the players from the first major piece of silverware following the launch of the IT Carlow programme have progressed since- others have also used their qualifications to find success in business ( Alan Last, Bowie Dee and Darren Kavanagh for example) while others, such as Bobby Tier played League of Ireland before coaching a junior level.
A miniscule amount of players will make a career from playing football, but ten years later many of those who were amongst the first to experience success on the fields at IT Carlow while also studying have benefited from the time spent in Third Level Education.
On Wednesday at 7.30pm IT Carlow GAA players will step into the unknown and are prepared to make their own piece of history, when the early CAO deadline closes on Friday are you prepared for your future?
For further information on the FAI course at IT Carlow click on: https://www.itcarlow.ie/courses/type/undergraduate-cao-courses/sport-media-marketing-courses/cw827.htm
For more information on Third Level and Football options click on: https://www.extratime.ie/articles/20297/education-life-beyond-soccer---1-an-overview/