Wednesday 17 July 2019

Players left out in cold for training

PFAI disappointed as pitches not available

The PFAI team in charge of training camp (l-r): Ollie Cahill, Gary Rogers, Stephen McGuinness, Darren Meenan and coach Martin Russell
The PFAI team in charge of training camp (l-r): Ollie Cahill, Gary Rogers, Stephen McGuinness, Darren Meenan and coach Martin Russell

The PFAI, the body responsible for players in the League of Ireland, have expressed their disappointment at the FAI's failure to provide access to training facilities and kit for a training camp for out-of-work players.

While both bodies work from the same building in Abbotstown, relations were strained when the PFAI backed the senior women's international team in their battle with the FAI earlier this year

This week the the squad of out-of-contract players, coached by ex-Limerick boss Martin Russell, have had to go and look for assistance, with Bohemians, Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers all offering logistical help and Dundalk-based company CX Sports providing kit at the last minute..

For the last eight years, the PFAI have run a winter traini ng camp in Dublin, giving access to coaching for players who have been released by their League of Ireland clubs.

They also arrange trial games where players can showcase their talents in front of club managers. Training kit was provided by the FAI and pitches at FAI HQ in Abbotstown and the AUL complex were made available.

And the camp was useful - at last year's event, a relative unknown, Oscar Brennan, used a trial game to catch the eye of Bohemians boss Keith Long. Brennan went on to star for Bohs in 2017 and has since signed a new contract.

"It is very beneficial. There's nothing better than being around a dressing room," says the much-travelled winger Darren Meenan, who has attended a previous camp and is currently training with the PFAI after his release by Shamrock Rovers.

PFAI General Secretary Stephen McGuinness says he approached the FAI League Director Fran Gavin last Friday to discuss arrangements.

"For eight years the FAI have supported the programme with kit, balls, water, equipment. They provided us with the AUL, all free of charge and we have used Abbotstown for the last few years," he says.

"I wrote to the FAI in regard to keeping that relationship going, I met with them on Friday and they just told us that it was unavailable to the PFAI. None of it was available.

"The disappointing thing is that this is not about the PFAI, it's about the players who, ultimately, you would think, the FAI care about and would look over whatever issues they have with us and be able to assist players."

To facilitate training this week, the PFAI have hired pitches in the same complex as FAI HQ, at a cost of €120 per session.

In response, the FAI said: "The PFAI came last Thursday looking for the pitches to play. With the notice that they gave, they just weren't available."

The FAI also said the training kit was unavailable due to the change in kit supplier.

McGuinness says he told the FAI that the union planned to make their position public at a media event yesterday.

"They were kind of shrugging their shoulders," he added. "I don't know whether the media stuff affects them.

"It does amaze me. We are more than willing to assist, to continue to work with the FAI but for whatever reason, we feel it's not coming the other way."

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