New era dawns for Limerick football with bottom-up approach

  • Limerick United (Pic Arthur Ellis)
Irene Hehir, Womens League Limerick Utd, Tommy Barrett, Academy Manager and Con Murray, Interim Chairman Limerick Utd. (Pic Arthur Ellis)

League of Ireland football in Limerick is going to be given a “bottom-up” reboot with the establishment of Limerick United, Interim Chairman of the newly formed club Conn Murray stated today.

Launching Limerick United, which will be based at the Markets Field, Mr Murray said the club will begin with and concentrate exclusively on the development of a best-in-class football academy. It will, he said, become a nursery intent, not just on maximising the footballing potential of its members, but their personal development also.

And he called for the support of the public and business community to join a journey that will be focused on, in time, surpassing even the glory years of football in Limerick and the region.

The club, he said, will start out as a footballing academy with an initial concentration on putting successful structures in place there, but with an ambition and intention to re-enter senior League of Ireland football as early as next year. The first step on the journey will be the holding of trials for the underage League of Ireland teams (men and women) this week. Notification will be across newly established Limerick United social media accounts.

“Today is the beginning of a new era for football in Limerick. We are going to focus on what every club or sporting organisation does when it hits a low and that is on our youth. If you look at the top teams, clubs, counties or provinces in any sport, you will see pretty much everything point back to a moment in time where they put the focus on developing their young talent.

“That’s what we are doing now with the establishment of Limerick United. We are going to develop one of the best young footballing academies in Ireland, we are going to nurture the talent there, make sure we do all we can so that every young man or woman who comes through our gates fulfills his or her sporting talent and, in doing so, their own personal development.

“This will not happen overnight but will be a gradual but sustainable development that, by the time we get Limerick United achieving its full potential, the structures will be in place to keep it there.”

The recently retired Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council, who led the successful amalgamation of the city and county councils in 2014, said that Limerick is synonymous the world over with sport and, given its proud tradition in and love for football, “all that’s between now and football success is structures and a plan”.

“If anything, Limerick is at its best when it is down and no one ever dares this city or county out,” he continued. “Football’s struggles here are well documented but we are going to begin with those who will build a future for football in Limerick, our young players. 

“Limerick is, pound for pound, undeniably the sporting capital of Ireland. Thomond Park has become a venue of global fame and we are now going to have an international rugby museum here. Limerick hurlers are still, many would say, the best team in Ireland and the Gaelic Grounds is among the country’s top five largest venues. We built the country’s first 50m pool here in Limerick, the UL sports arena is one of the country’s great centres of excellence. We have an outstanding record in boxing, including one of Ireland’s most recent world champions, Andy Lee. We have a rich tradition in rowing and other water sports, in basketball and so much more.

“We also have a rich tradition in soccer but it’s fallen away. There’s a huge core support there that we need to galvanise and give a reason to support a flagship Limerick team. And that’s what we are going to do.

“What I would ask now is everyone, the public and the business community, who has an interest in football, in the social development of our city, to join us on this journey. Like so much of the positive transformation here over the past decade or so, we start with a plan, we will follow it carefully and we will succeed. It’s the beginning of a new era and we are hugely excited about what’s ahead.”

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Treaty Stone Limerick. Photo Piotr Machowczyk