Sean McVeigh taking time out from St Eunan’s footballers and Donegal hurlers to coach soccer in Hungary

Alan Foley

Reporter:

Alan Foley

Sean McVeigh taking time out from St Eunan’s footballers and Donegal hurlers to coach soccer in Hungary
Sean McVeigh freely admits he wasn’t too up on the fortunes of Debreceni VSC in the Hungarian League until recently.

Sean McVeigh freely admits he wasn’t too up on the fortunes of Debreceni VSC in the Hungarian League until recently.

The 24-year-old is one of that dying breed - the dual-player - and perhaps the most prominent of the scant few that try their hand at both hurling and football in Donegal.

In November, McVeigh won a second RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta Donegal SFC in the black and amber of St Eunan’s footballers.

In 2013, he scored a marvellous individual goal for Donegal hurlers as they lifted the Nicky Rackard Cup for the first time following an epic 3-20 to 3-16 victory over Roscommon at a sun-drenched Croke Park.

His splendid season was rewarded with a place on the Nicky Rackard ‘Champions XV’ having also helped Donegal to the 2011 Lory Meagher.

But when the options were put on the table for work placement at his course at Letterkenny Institute of Technology, where McVeigh is in the third year of four in Sports Coaching and Performance, he decided to take a step into the relative unknown.

“There were a few options for our three-month placements and a lot of my classmates decided to take up positions in gyms and things likes that,” says McVeigh.

“Others are gone to the likes of Finn Harps and Derry City. There was also a opportunity to go to Malta and work with their Football Association, although it was an administrative role.”

That left Debreceni VSC. The Hungarian club have, in a country that revolutionised football in the 1950s, in leaner times become the driving force having won seven of the last 10 national league titles - known as the OTP Bank Liga.

The first-team are currently in fourth place ahead of the campaign restarting against the Puskas Academy - the legacy of legendary Ferenc Puskas, who took Hungary to the 1954 World Cup final and won three European Cups at Real Madrid - on Saturday week following the mid-season winter break.

Impetus in Hungarian football is put on youth development and that’s where the link with Letterkenny Institute of Technology came from.

“It’s a bit random one to be honest but the chance to coach was what we wanted really,” Mc Veigh adds. “We’ve been working with the U-16s at Debreceni VSC this week.

“The facilities are excellent here and although some of the young soccer players are very talented, I think there’s an awful lot of talent back home in various sports where the facilities aren’t really as good.”

McVeigh, joined by fellow students Connaire Doherty from Redcastle and Malin native Patrick McGrenahan, last week arrived in Debrechen, which is Hungary’s second largest city and home to approximately 200,000 people.

“It’s a lovely city and we’re staying right in the middle just a couple of minutes from the stadium,” McVeigh adds.

“We’re still trying to get our head around the local currency, the Forint, and the language is very difficult and it’s not really similar to any other language.”

Although the Nagyerdei Stadion is where his focus will be for the next 12 weeks or so, last week McVeigh was thinking more of O’Donnell Park.

“I was listening to the hurlers’ match from Letterkenny and checking the updates on Twitter,” he says of Donegal’s 3-14 to 1-12 loss to Mayo in the Allianz Division 2B.

“The lads did well and were competitive so hopefully can get something from Armagh this weekend. I’ll be back in May for the Nicky Rackard all going well and will be keeping an eye on how they’re going.

“I’ve been trying to explain what hurling and football is to the Hungarians over here but they think we’re half-mad!”