GWEEDORE CELTIC will be one of eight clubs in the running for the Aviva Club of the Year, which will take place at the Football Association of Ireland AGM in Wicklow this July.
The Gaeltacht club won the November monthly award and marked that success on Wednesday.
RTE Sports presenter Jacqui Hurley interviewed club persons Johnny Coll, Shane Barr and Hughie Rua Gallagher, the first team manager.
The FAI were in attendance with regional representatives Stephen McNutt, Trevor Scanlon and Jim McConnell.
The large gathering were kept amused with a number of training sessions from those in the Gweedore Celtic academy, whilst those who preferred to stay indoors were given a history of the club by means of vast array of photographs and newspaper articles as refreshments were served.
“There was a great crowd,” Academy Director Shane Barr said. “Between club members, parents, families in the area, I hope everyone enjoyed themselves and now hopefully we can go on and get club of the year.”
Thus far, South County Dublin side Shankill and Gweedore Celtic are the first monthly winners in this season’s Aviva Club of the Month Awards.
Both clubs last month received cheques for €1,500 at a presentation lunch in the Carlton Hotel, Blanchardstown, which is one of the associate sponsors of the event along with The Irish Daily Star.
They are now in the running for the €5,000 prize that will go to the national winner. The pair will join the next six monthly winners, ranging from December to May, and all will then make a presentation to high-ranking FAI officials at the AGM, which was in Donegal last year but will take place in Wicklow in July.
Gweedore Celtic last year set up an academy to focus on the development of five to 16-year-olds in the locality to help mould its future stars.
There is also an encouragement to communicate through the Irish language.
Then, in November, the club forged a link with Valencia. The head of Valencia’s football academy, Carlos de Lera Bartrina, was in Gweedore as the first stages of the partnership between the respective clubs’ academies took shape. Barr will make the return journey in April
“We’ve began to implement ‘the Valencia Way’, which is a five-year player development plan that has put a structure in place,” he said.
“We also work very hard here, with Valencia and the FAI to put a huge emphasis on coach development and when you have that in place it should in turn benefit the players.
“There is also a lot of community work as well as fund-raising, building relationships with local schools and getting parents involved.”