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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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Green light for teen accommodation

By Michelle Crean  Plans for sheltered accommodation to house homeless teenagers in foster care have been given the go ahead. An Bord Pleanala has approved a three-storey building in Flemings Lane just off High Street, which will have eight bedrooms, two one bedroom apartments and one two bedroom apartment. The teens living within the premises […]

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By Michelle Crean
 

Plans for sheltered accommodation to house homeless teenagers in foster care have been given the go ahead.

An Bord Pleanala has approved a three-storey building in Flemings Lane just off High Street, which will have eight bedrooms, two one bedroom apartments and one two bedroom apartment.

The teens living within the premises will be supervised by applicant Eileen O’Brien who will live on the ground floor of the premises.

The two one-bed apartments on the second floor would either be rented out or used for independent living for the teenagers as they reach adulthood.

The two-bed apartment will be on the third floor. There are also plans for balconies at second and third floor levels.

The proposed apartment building is contemporary in design with a mix of stone and render finish on the lower floors and synthetic burned timber finish on the upper floors. The second floor is recessed at the front and the third floor is recessed at the front and the rear with a decorative feature on the front elevation comprising dark grey timber steel poles. The building will also have a flat roof.

Planning permission was granted subject to 14 conditions including a two-metre high boundary wall to be constructed on south, south-western boundaries of the site and there’s to be no overnight commercial guest accommodation.

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Fans return to Fitzgerald Stadium after eight months

By Sean Moriarty Officials from Fitzgerald Stadium remain hopeful that crowd capacity at the venue can be increased to 500 spectators in time for the Munster final on July 25 – subject to both national health guidelines and Kerry qualifying for the game. Last Saturday evening’s National League semi-final between Kerry and Tyrone was the […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Officials from Fitzgerald Stadium remain hopeful that crowd capacity at the venue can be increased to 500 spectators in time for the Munster final on July 25 – subject to both national health guidelines and Kerry qualifying for the game.

Last Saturday evening’s National League semi-final between Kerry and Tyrone was the first game at the stadium since the 2020 Kerry Petroleum Intermediate Club Football Championship Quarter-Final when Glenbeigh-Glencar played Beaufort on October 4 last year.

Due to current restrictions only 200 fans were allowed attend Saturday’s big match. That will remain in place for Kerry’s opening Munster Championship tie with Clare on June 26.

“It had been more than eight months since Fitzgerald Stadium welcomed back fans to the venue,” stadium PRO Tatyana McGough told the Killarney Advertiser. “Everything went exceptionally well.”

She is hopeful that more restrictions will be eased on July 5, paving the way for an increase in capacity to 500 fans in time for the July 25 Munster Final.

“It is likely that from July 5 up to 500 spectators may be permitted to attend games. We hope this number will increase for the Munster Final. If it is a Cork versus Kerry Munster Final the game will be fixed for Sunday July 25 at 4pm in the Fitzgerald Stadium. The stadium’s staff are very confident in being able to host any number of fans that may be allowed.”

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Garda appeal to park legally at beaches and public amenities

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An Garda Siochana is appealing to the public to park legally in designated car parks and spaces when visiting beaches, beauty spots and other public amenities. 

The good weather has seen an increase in dangerous illegal parking at these locations across the country in recent weeks. An Garda Siochana wants people to enjoy the summer but do so safely.

Parking illegally can lead to unnecessary risk and dangers such as pedestrians being forced to walk along dangerous roads. It can also prevent emergency services from gaining access to these amenities a seaside locations which could lead to the loss of life. 

“We encourage the public to plan their journeys and think safety first when parking your vehicle,” the Gardai said in a statement. 

“The outcome of parking illegally could be far more serious than a FCPN or vehicle towing and puts others and your own life at risk. 

An Garda Siochana reminds and encourages the public to social distance and follow public health guidelines when attending these locations this Summer.

An Garda Siochana is also supporting National Water Safety Awareness Week (June 14th – 20th). Information on this campaign and general water safety can be found on Water Safety Irelands Website – www.watersafety.ie/national-water-safety-awareness-week/

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