The manager of Arranmore United fears for the future of the Donegal League soccer team and blames the difficulties they face on the demise of the fishing culture of the island.
Milford Inn Division One side Arranmore United was established in 1987 and during the last number of years, despite having no financial worries and having top rate facilities the future of the team remains uncertain.
“We have a team this year but it is going to be hard next year,” said manager Jerry Early. “We have not had a training session with the team for three years.”
At the moment four of the team live in Galway, one lives in Dublin, another in Finner Camp and there are a number of players from the Burtonport and Dungloe areas.
In the 2006/07, Arranmore won the CT Ball Division Two and although relegated 12 months later the side managed to get promoted to Division One last season after finishing in second place behind Rathmullan Celtic.
“We have lost two full teams in seven years,” Early continued. “There is only one man playing on the team for the last five years and I know that if you go to any club in the county you will find more than that. Since the restrictions and the demise of the fishing on the island we have lost so many young men to emigration.”
Early has been manager of the team for around 10 years. He has always been a strong supporter of the team and has often played.
“Even when I wasn’t manager I would be the first man there to support them,” he added. “For me the Arranmore team is our team and they come ahead of Manchester United or any of them teams. Everyone on the island is very supportive of their team. I love the club and I mean it comes first. The unfortunate thing is it is just getting so hard to keep it going. With the demise of the fishing and the restrictions put upon the young people, we have nothing to keep them on the island.”
He added that the management of Keadue Rovers and their team have been extremely helpful to their club over the years. “Only for the help that we get from Keadue, the two of us work together,” Early added. “We owe them a lot. Ben Boyle puts an awful lot of work into the younger teams there.”
The ailing island population, the restrictions and the demise of the fishing population, competition for players between soccer and Gaelic is leaving the future of soccer on the picturesque island somewhat uncertain for the future.
“I want the team to be there for my son when he comes along,” Early added. “I want the team to be there for when he is old enough to play.”