FAI Schools celebrated a remarkable milestone in the history of their Association this weekend with a 50th Anniversary.
The foundations of schools football can be traced as far back as the late fifties but under the guidance of the late Tom Ticher and Dr. Tony O’Neill the establishment of Irish Schools began in 1968/69.
In the early 70s there were a handful of primary and post primary schools enjoying structured regular football during the academic season.
Fifty years on and the Schools fraternity boasts a membership of 80,000 students participating in primary and post primary schools nationwide. The range of activities is immense, from grassroots initiatives such as the Primary 5s, 16 National Cups, various provincial league competitions and elite football with the Centenary Shield and Bob Docherty Cup squads.
The organisation continues to excel amongst their international rivals as both the Republic of Ireland teams at Under 18 Boys level and Under 15 Girls grade are reigning Champions in their Home Nations tournaments.
Since the inception of the International programme of events in 2003, the Republic of Ireland have captured the Centenary Shield title seven times while the girls have clinched the crown six times since 2002.
Among the internationals who have come through the schools system are Seamus Coleman and Tyler Toland.
Summerhill College, Sligo were the dominant force in schools football in the late sixties capturing an outstanding four in a row at National senior level. More recently Carndonagh Community School are the driving force with two appearances in the last three Dr. Tony O’Neill National Cup Finals. The Ulster outfit won two of the three with St. Francis College, Rochestown outdoing their supremacy in 2017.
Seán Carr, Chairman of FAI Schools is very proud of the extensive programme of football that the Association delivers at all levels of the game. Speaking at this weekend’s event he said: "Schools football is very much dependent on the very many teachers around the country that volunteer of their time to ensure that their students can benefit from their involvement in the sport as well as to continue their academics."