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Killarney boy chasing the American Dream

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In Ireland there’s a standard path to becoming a professional soccer player and it goes like this: get spotted by a scout, get a trial for an English team, and, if you’re lucky enough, get signed. But what happens if the old way doesn’t work for you? 99.9% of boys simply give up on their dream.

18-year-old Micheál Devlin from Muckross is one of the 0.1%. The Killarney youngster still has ambitions to play sport at the highest level and, with little prospect of making that happen here in Ireland, he’s taking an alternative route to get there. This Sunday he’s saying goodbye to friends and family and shipping off to Washington DC where he hopes to make his mark with the Georgetown University soccer team.

Micheál, who lined out for the Kerry U-17 footballers and was part of the St Brendan’s College team who won the Hogan Cup in 2017, says he considered playing Gaelic football in a college closer to home but, in the end, it didn’t seem like a good fit.

“I did a tour of UL and I wasn’t really blown away with it, and I didn’t think I was good enough to get on the UCC U-20 football team, so I started looking at soccer. I didn’t really have a strong background here – I didn’t make the Kennedy Cup team – so my dad (Mike, originally from Tyrone) suggested the idea of going to America.”

Trevor Nagle, who coaches the soccer teams at St Brendan’s College, put Micheál in touch with Stephen Murray from Pass4Soccer, a company that secures soccer scholarships in US universities for players from the UK, Ireland and further afield.

Micheál went up and played a trial game in Dublin and Stephen suggested that he do the American tour. The Pass4Soccer hopefuls travelled to North Carolina in March to play against five college teams in seven days and to say Micheál was impressed would be an understatement.

“Everything was just a million times better than what we’re used to here. Even the poorer colleges have state of the art facilities. It’s absolutely crazy. I was lucky enough to play in Croker and on the tour we played on the main pitch of one of the D1 schools. It was just as good.”

The standard, too, was much higher than he anticipated.

“We played against the University of North Carolina and the level of soccer was unreal. I kind of went over thinking, “yeah, Americans playing soccer…” but they were class.”

The Killarney Celtic right back caught the eye of more than one coach over the course of the week but one was particularly interested: Coach Brent Chase at Georgetown University. He told the Devlins that he’d better any offer they received from other colleges and he was true to his word. Micheál will be on a full scholarship at one of the most highly rated schools in the country.

Many youngsters might be daunted by the prospect of moving so far away from home for four years but Micheál jumped at the opportunity.

“It wasn’t really a tough decision to make. It just seemed right. My family were very supportive as well - they can’t wait to get rid of me I’d say! I’m a small bit nervous now. It’s getting tougher by the day. Last Sunday at five o’clock I realised, ‘Jesus, this time next week I’ll be on a plane…’ But I can come home for a month at Christmas and that’s only 12 weeks away. It’s not too bad.”

College athletes don’t always play in their freshman year but Micheál is hoping to get a chance straight away. Chase, who was named Nike National Goalkeeper of the Year during his playing days at Columbus State Community College, was given the Hoyas job earlier this year and he is clearly a big fan of the schools’ first ever Irish player.

Looking to the future, Micheál’s eyes are firmly set on getting his accountancy degree first and foremost and, if things go well on the field, the prospect of declaring for the MLS SuperDraft is something that really excites him.

“If I got the opportunity, I’d take it. Growing up you dream of playing for Manchester United or someone like that… But I think it’d be unreal to play in the MLS.”

It might not be the normal path for Irish players but America’s biggest league is growing in size and popularity and with an average wage of $6,000 per week, it should certainly be an enticing option for any would-be pro.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for Micheál and from what I’ve seen of him he has the determination and talent to make a real go of it. And even if he doesn’t end up realising his American dream, an accountancy degree from one of the top colleges in the United States isn’t exactly a bad thing to fall back on…

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Family to run in memory of the late Linda Eviston

By Sean Moriarty The family of a much-loved Killarney woman who passed away from cancer almost a year ago plan to run a marathon past her favourite local landmarks in her memory. Linda Eviston died on October 10 last after a long battle with cancer. Her husband Patrick and son Erik, with the support of […]

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By Sean Moriarty

The family of a much-loved Killarney woman who passed away from cancer almost a year ago plan to run a marathon past her favourite local landmarks in her memory.

Linda Eviston died on October 10 last after a long battle with cancer.

Her husband Patrick and son Erik, with the support of her daughter Alannah, will run a 42.2km course, on the day before her anniversary to raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society.

The route will be based on landmarks that were an important part of Linda’s life. Starting from the family home in Dromkerry, before heading for the town centre and passing the Eviston House Hotel, Linda’s grandmother’s home at Park Road, Linda’s childhood home and national school in Glenflesk, Loreto where Linda attended secondary school, back to Killarney and finishing at Linda’s pride and joy – Brook Lodge Hotel.

“It is tough but we wanted to do something in Linda’s memory and help other people who might find themselves in similar circumstances,” Pat told the Killarney Advertiser. “We originally hoped to do the Dublin City Marathon but that got cancelled. This route is much better, but much tougher as it’s more hilly.”

All proceeds will be donated to the Irish Cancer Society and donations can be made via: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/inhonouroflinda.

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Women bravely bare all for Kerry’s first ‘Dip in the Nip’

By Michelle Crean  It really was girl power at its finest – as 170 women of all ages braved the elements on Sunday to bare all for charity at the weekend. Shore Acre in Camp was the location which was only revealed to the participants for Kerry’s first ever ‘Dip in the Nip’. And amongst […]

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By Michelle Crean
 

It really was girl power at its finest – as 170 women of all ages braved the elements on Sunday to bare all for charity at the weekend.

Shore Acre in Camp was the location which was only revealed to the participants for Kerry’s first ever ‘Dip in the Nip’. And amongst the all female grouping were some Killarney ladies who joined in the empowering adventure for what was described as “a special and unforgettable morning” all in aid of Recovery Haven Kerry.

According to Marisa Reidy from Recovery Haven, the women were of all ages and all walks of life who came together for so many personal reasons.

“Some were still on their own cancer journey, some were celebrating coming out the other side and of course, many were there to honour friends and loved ones who they had lost to cancer, but we were all equal on the day – flaws and all,” Marisa, who also took part in the event, told the Killarney Advertiser.

“It was a truly uplifting and exhilarating experience and we are so, so grateful to each and every lady who joined us for a morning we will never forget. One woman described it as ‘companionship among strangers’ and that really sums it up perfectly. It was emotional, there were some tears, but lots of laughter and we couldn’t have asked for anything more. When the ladies hit the water, they all formed a circle and held hands in a gesture that was totally unplanned – it just happened organically and it was quite overwhelming.”

She added that a very special mention has to be made to Michaela and John Edwards and their team from Wild Water Adventures for their support and expertise in ensuring no stone was left unturned in making it a fabulous, safe event.

“It was an all-female team from beginning to end, from our own volunteers, stewards, registration, Gardai, teas and coffees, lifeguards, sea rescue – girl power at its finest! Now all that’s left to do is start planning for 2022!”

Donations are still being taken via the link on the Recovery Haven Kerry Facebook page.

“So far we are close on €9,000 which is just fabulous.”

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