Dennis O’Callaghan, Niall O’Driscoll, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, John Delaney, Ruud Dokter and Paul Osam at the St Joseph’s Bray Academy launch. Picture: Karen Morgan

ST JOSEPH’S Boys and Bray Wanderers formally opened their SJB Academy on Tuesday evening at their new base on the Glenamuck Road in Carrickmines
The formation of the academy is a direct result of the new underage League of Ireland structures, introduced by the FAI at Under-15, 17 and 19 level with an Under-13 division en route.
To this end, St Joseph’s have sought to raise their game, linking up with Bray to provide a seamless link between their schoolboy section with the academy providing the pathway into the professional ranks with Bray.
The academy will be housed in the new facility in Carrickmines at Bective Rangers’ rugby club’s old training grounds.
The facility comprises of a fully floodlit grass pitch, a goalkeeper training area, two fully floodlit small sided training pitches, dressing rooms, a medical room, a gym area, a performance analysis suite and meeting rooms.
Speaking at the launch, St Joseph’s Niall O’Driscoll said: “We’d like to think this is the first dedicated academy for elite football in Ireland.
“We have a facility and an academy with the exclusive purpose of developing youth players in line with UEFA and the FAI directives.
“It is about the best of the best and developing kids into adults. If football is that medium through which they contribute to society, then so be it. If they want to be footballers, fantastic. Developing them as people is core to it.”
Joeys Director of Club operations Will Clarke, meanwhile, said that the link with Bray is a natural one. The academy players involved in their League of Ireland underage teams will use the same strength and conditions, nutrition, recovery and video facilities as the senior Bray team who also use the Carrickmines training base.
“The relationship with Bray and Joes is one which goes back a long way,” Clarke added. “We’ve had upwards of 70 players who have come through Joes and played professionally for Bray. There’s a natural fit for the two clubs.
“Elite football in the country has undergone fundamental change and that effects the mindset in the club. We still have our schoolboy side of the club but there is now an elite pathway all the way through to Bray. For those who maybe aren’t yet on the elite pathway, they can continue with the grassroots of the club and enjoy the game. We’d like to think we will cater for all kids.
“It’s great that the academy guys are at the same venue as the senior side and, over a period of time, there will be a full integration of the four teams in the structure.
“We’d like to think the programme is of a standard that will allow us to achieve our objectives and be the number one academy in the country.”