WITH the end of a hugely successful 2014-15 season closing in, Portmarnock AFC attribute their club-wide success to changes in football philosophy, improved morale and some interesting developments in club training.
The fast-progressing side recently took home the LSL Sunday Senior Division 1B title.
The vital moment came in winning a critical tie 2-1 away at second placed Lucan United – a side featuring five former professional players.
They then secured the title with a 1-0 victory over Confey United to guarantee promotion.
Darren Costello, appointed the club’s director of football before the start of this season, told GazetteSport “We have a young vibrant squad playing really good football. It’s been an exceptional season across a range of different levels. Most of our sides have won leagues or at least gone close.”
The reasons, it seems, come back to pre-season and ongoing changes, fulfilled through The Kube fundraiser that paid for many of the developments at their Paddy’s Hill home.
It’s also down to Costello’s new style, though. “The club decided at the start of the year to bring in a director of football, and I was privileged to be asked to do it,” he said.
“We’ve introduced a style of play that involves getting players time on the ball. We play formations across the club that allow the kids to progress through the same system, and understand their role.
“We’ve also added a new section in the club where the kids can kick the ball around using their head, left foot, right foot and chest.
“We’ve upped training to twice a week, and we all train in the same place so the different levels can learn from each other,” Costello adds.
“We’ve even told the managers to limit themselves to five or six words during the match, to avoid barking orders. It all helps.”
Substantial effort has been made to bond the club into a still tighter community, too. “We bonded the whole club, by travelling to Stoke and Sunderland earlier this season and to Stoke and Liverpool this weekend, which had a big effect.”
Dan Davis has come in as goalkeeping coach and the club will also be opening a new floodlit grass training area for the coming season.
“Our aim is for the kids coming through to understand the game.
“We’d like them all to be confident on the ball. Above all, it’s about enjoying the game, and understanding how to play it. It’s about educating the kids.”
Has Portmarnock’s new approach been a success? This year, the results tell their own story.