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Brid McGinty: Lagan’s light that never goes out

Brid McGinty winner of the Appreciation Award which was presented by guest Sean O'Rourke. Photo: Brian McDaid

Brid McGinty winner of the Appreciation Award which was presented by guest Sean O’Rourke. Photo: Brian McDaid

BY CHRIS MCNULTY

A LOOK at Brid McGinty’s schedule brings echoes of Lucille Ball’s old line: “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.”

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Last Friday night at the Donegal Sports Star Awards, McGinty was the winner of the appreciation award. For the best part of two decades now, she’s been to the forefront of the Lagan Harps ladies and been immersed in the development of ladies football in Donegal.

In 2014, McGinty, managed teams at Lagan Harps, taking in the under-8s, under-10s, under-12s, under-14s, under-16s and under-18s. At the same time, she was in charge of Donegal Ladies Development squads at under-12, under-14 and under-16 level. For good measure, she’s the secretary of the Donegal Women’s League and is the Ulster Representative on the WFAI.

“I’d be out most evenings, be it with club or county, but it doesn’t bother me – I love it,” she says.

“I’ve been involved in football all my life. Football in our house was just 24/7. It’s only natural I think that I took up a big interest in the game.”

Through her father, Thomas, from Manor, Brid, who lives in Mountain Top, Letterkenny, took up an interest in coaching during her own playing days.

She says: “The main reason that I got so heavily involved was that when I was younger there was no-one really promoting or developing girls soccer in Donegal.

“You played with the boys, but you only played really when they’d be stuck for players. Away you’d go to training every night, but you’d only get on if ten players showed up to the game.”

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McGinty has been working her way up the coaching ladder. After completing the FAI’s Kickstart 1 and Kickstart 2 courses, she completed the Youth Cert in 2009 and a year later she attended a UEFA Coach Development event in Holland with an FAI delegation that included Noel King and Sue Ronan. Last year, she attended another UEFA Coach Development workshop in Dublin and is now waiting for her application to get on the UEFA ‘B’ Licence to be processed.

“When you go on these courses, you learn so much,” she says.

“The one in Dublin last year we did video analysis and match analysis. We went to an international game in Dublin and did the video analysis on that. We were taken then to a Shamrock Rovers game and did match analysis on that. I really enjoy that.”

The highlights of her time in the game are undoubtedly the triumphs with Lagan on the national stage. In 2010, Lagan defeated Eureka Kells 1-0 at Leckview Park in the WFAI Intermediate Cup final, with Nakita Burke’s goal the moment that popped the champagne corks.

In September of last year, Lagan were national champions again, defeating Tipperary Town a whopping 8-1 in the WFAI Junior final at Cooke Park, Tipperary. Burke, Lauren Harper and Amber Barrett netted a brace each with Caroline Gallagher and Emma McKinley also on the mark.

“The buzz of winning those games in the national cup can’t be beaten,” McGinty says.

“Donegal is often called the forgotten county when it comes to girls soccer. That year we beat Eureka Kells, they had three international players on their side and we had none. After we won that game, international managers started looking at the players from here a bit more. We’ve had so many called up lately.

“Last month, Zoe Green, Ciana Brogan and Caoimhe Walsh were called into the Ireland Under-16 squad. Zoe McGlynn and Amber Barrett have played for Ireland too. That shows we’re developing players. You get on those squads on merit. You don’t just walk onto an international team.”

McGinty’s own playing days started with the Illistrin boys before she played with the Downtown ladies team and had spells playing for Gartan and Lagan.

She is indebted to the help of the likes of Gabriel Crawford and Gerard McGarrigle at Lagan, Paula Irwin and Johnny Baird with the Donegal squads and at administrative level the assistance of the likes of Ernie Pollock, Terry Leyden and Dessie Kelly has been vital.

She says: “Terry and Dessie are the top men in soccer in Donegal and the Donegal Women’s League is so lucky to have them. Ernie does so much at Lagan, too.”

The aims for 2015 are lofty and the bar has been set high. As it always it.

She says: “We won the Junior Cup last year, so we want to give the Intermediate a good run this time. We lost to Greencastle in the Ulster Cup so we’ll be looking to win that competition. The WFAI Intermediate and Ulster Cups are what we’ll be pushing for this year.

“I hope the game keeps growing too. There are a lot of areas in Donegal, especially in some big towns, that have no women’s soccer. These are areas that have the players, but don’t have the structure. It’s hard to get volunteers. You always seem to get the excuses.”

Not from Brid McGinty.

“The more things you do, the more you can do,” never felt truer.

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