Sunday 23 October 2016

Sheriff Street youth group is the ace of clubs for inner-city kids

Sheriff Youth Club members Hugo Richardson, Paul Ryan, and Johnny Scurry. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Sheriff Youth Club members Hugo Richardson, Paul Ryan, and Johnny Scurry. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Less than 100m from the spot where an innocent man was recently shot dead, Sheriff Youth Club is keeping young kids and teens away from the dangers of the streets.

The club boasts some famous former members, including Stephen Gately and Laurence Kinlan (Elmo from Love/Hate) - whose old manager jokes is "a better actor than he ever was a footballer".

Football is the club's primary concern and they recently scooped their third FAI Junior Cup in five years. But the clubhouse is also home to an after-school club, badminton and weekly bingo.

The club motto is "Always Trying" - and sometimes it is an uphill struggle to keep the doors open, the Herald was told.

But from their beginnings in the cellar of a local pub to their reputation as one of the best amateur clubs in the country, the people who give up their time to run Sheriff YC know its value.

New manager Alan O'Keeffe (32), who plays for the senior team, recently started a team for the U15s when he saw the need for younger teenagers.

"I don't know what I'd be doing, being honest; I could be mixed up with the wrong people. I've loads of friends who were in my class that went the other road, and half of them are dead," he told the Herald.

Despite being based in the shadow of the IFSC, the club receives no big-money sponsorship. Instead, it is local businesses which donate what they can to cover costs.

"We do get some support from smaller businesses," PRO Hugo Richardson said.

The club's schoolboy secretary Paul Ryan said they have tried to secure long-term funding from bigger companies.

"We have a small bar that opens from 8pm to closing but, as I always say, if we made €100,000 a year, we'll spend €130,000.

"The local people do support us with raffles or tickets we sell, but it's hard to believe you are living in the heart of the financial district and we can't get one of the banks to sponsor us," he said.

"We struggle to get through one end of the year to the other."

The club introduced an annual €50 fee last year. It costs players €5 a week to play, which covers training and transport to matches.


"We don't like to hit parents for too much because it's never just one child from a family, it's the whole family," Paul said.

On top of keeping youngsters away from trouble they also get to travel to other parts of the city and surrounding counties.

"Some of the kids never see the outside of the inner city; the only trip some of them might get is out to Tallaght for a game at the weekend," said Johnny Scurry, who drives a minibus for the club and helps with running Sheriff YC.

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