THERE will be a fresh face in the dugout for DLR Waves next season as former League of Ireland player John Sullivan will join Graham Kelly’s coaching staff at Jackson Park.
The former Dundalk, Bray Wanderers and Hamilton Academical midfielder decided to hang up his boots this summer at the age of just 28 to focus on building his coaching credentials.
Kelly worked with Sullivan for three years at Bray, first as a video analyst, then as a coach and finally as caretaker manager following the departure of Graham Mackey.
Both men left Bray at the end of 2018, Kelly taking over at Waves and Sullivan playing amateur football with Crumlin and Bluebell United before deciding a change of direction was needed.
That change of direction is his first role within women’s football and one he’s determined to approach with enthusiasm.
“We had a very, very good, in-depth chat about where he wanted to take the club next year,” Sullivan tells Dublin Gazette.
“It was a no-brainer for me. He’s an unbelievable person and a fantastic coach as well. He couldn’t have spoken any higher of the girls and his staff.
“Graham’s teams always play phenomenal football – a great style of football – and how his players carry themselves, their manner, is always very good.
“That’s just something you pick up, from social learning, just from watching him. He’s always open to new ideas.
“There’s nothing worse than someone asking you to work with them and then not letting you implement your own ideas, and that’s something Graham would definitely never do.”
Sullivan, who works as a personal trainer alongside coaching, has plenty to draw from in that regard, given the names he’s worked under.
His first contact with Kelly came when he was manager of the Dublin under-15s team and Crumlin’s rivals St Joseph’s Boys.
He worked under Harry Kenny at Bray Wanderers, while at Dundalk he worked under the current under-21 and future Ireland senior manager Stephen Kenny.
“I enjoy coaching and getting to work with people and knowing each individual, because what works for you may not work for me and vice versa.
“As a teenager, playing with Lourdes Celtic and Crumlin, I was always picking up on what the coaches said.
“You go home and you’re reflecting on it, and you have a kind of inner conflict with yourself on what they said and what you’re doing.
“Over the last number of years, the penny just dropped and a lot of things started to make sense from a coach’s point of view.
“I stopped thinking like a player, so that made this year a lot easier to step away from playing and go into coaching. Playing as a defensive midfielder, or a six, you get to see the game for what it is.
“Sometimes it’s like a game of FIFA on the Playstation, and you kind of predict what’s going to happen before it happens.
“I’ve learned so much from coaches, and people I’ve met over the last few years, and I’ve tried implementing what I’ve learned from them as coaches.
“Some has worked, some hasn’t worked, but I suppose I want to carry on where left off with me.”