Today saw the Foyle Cup 2014 come to an end. It also marked the end of one of Inishowen’s underage teams as they played together for the last time. The Inishowen U16 lads played this year in their 6th consecutive Foyle Cup tournament. The boys have been together since they were 10 years old and are now going their separate ways after today.
Six years ago this squad was chosen from clubs throughout Inishowen and have remained a unit for the past six years. A few lads have left at different intervals, and over that time new talent came aboard. But the main body of the team has remained the same.
At the core of this squad was their manager Diarmuid O’Brien. O’Brien stayed as manager as they progressed up through the age groups.
In the last six years this squad has won the ‘Rose Bowl’ in the Foyle Cup U12 age group. They came third, twice in the Foyle Cup. They were runners up just last year. And this year they came second in the Plate of the Foyle Cup.
Earlier this year, in May, the team had their biggest win…they won the All Ireland in Tipperary. This was a tremendous achievement for the boys and their manager Diarmuid.
U16 All Ireland
As a parent of one of these boys, I’ve watched the entire team grow and develop under the management of Diarmuid. I’ve watched as they had many ‘down’ moments when a game went wrong. I’ve watched as they had many ‘high’ moments when a tough game was won. I’ve watched as they consistently spoke highly of Diarmuid.
This past week has shown me just how much respect they have for this manager. Since the onset of Foyle Cup 2014 these boys wanted to win. They wanted to win it, not for themselves, but for Diarmuid. They knew that this was their last week playing together. And they wanted so badly to give their manager a win. However, the win wasn’t to be. The week did show just how determined they were to go out and do Diarmuid proud. Every evening my son came home and said they wanted to give back to Diarmuid what he had given him and his team mates over the past six years. Luck didn’t shine on them with the overall win. However luck did shine as they had a great week of football and played their hearts out. I’m sure I speak on behalf of every parent when I say these boys played some fantastic football over the past week. In fact they’ve played some amazing football over the past six years. The boys all insist that their dedication and passion for the game was instilled and enhanced by the manager Diarmuid.
I met Diarmuid over 11 years ago when my eldest son played for Inishowen and was managed by him. Then my second son played under Diarmuid’s management. And now my youngest has played under him for these six years. I’ve only ever heard good words about him. And as a parent, I can only speak highly on the care and attention he gave the boys. I’ve spoken with many of the parents this week and they are all of the same opinion.
Diarmuid O’Brien not only managed these boys for six years, he mentored them; he taught them exceptional footballing tactics; he taught them respect; he taught them integrity; he taught them independence; he taught them leadership; he taught them manners and he taught them how to be strong. One of the most important things he taught the boys was that they ‘win as a team, and they lose as a team’. Sportsmanship was always at the fore.
I’m told by the boys that Diarmuids famous words are ‘control, pass, move’! This and his never ending advice will serve them all well in the coming years as they move forward with their sport.
These boys have grown from children to young men under Diarmuids leadership. He’s played a very important part in their development not only as footballers, but as individual people. He’s someone they all look up to and someone they will always remember as being one of their most influential leaders.
So thanks Diarmuid from all the lads and from all us parents. You’ve been a true inspiration in the boy’s lives and no doubt you will continue to be so. Here’s wishing all the boys the very best with their futures and to Diarmuid with his continuing leadership of many more young footballers to come.