Michael O’Connor says that local Councils should be providing more assistance to League of Ireland soccer clubs.
The former Athlone Town player and manager was in Letterkenny at the weekend as manager of Athlone’s side for the Under-17 Women’s National League win over Donegal.
O’Connor has seen some troubled times at Athlone in recent years and he has urged Finn Harps to prioritise facilities over League points.
“Do Finn Harps bankrupt themselves to stay in the Division or do they put in a facility?” O’Connor said in an interview with Donegal Daily/Donegal Sport Hub.
“My belief is they need to put in a facility to cater for all of their teams. We found that the right way in Athlone.
“We did it on our own and got no help. Councils should get involved and help. I think the Councils should invest into their communities and give their young people a platform. If they’re doing it in Dublin with Dalymount, they can do it elsewhere.”
It’s 24 years now since O’Connor, then the player-manager, scored the winning penalty for Athlone against Finn Harps in a play-off at St Mel’s Park.
He believes it will be ‘impossible’ for clubs like Athlone and Harps to break the stranglehold of Dundalk and Cork City.
Having had a couple of terms as Athlone’s manager in the League of Ireland, O’Connor is now managing the U17 women’s team – and says the new U17 Women’s National League has been a real success.
He said: “The notion of girls playing at an elite level is a great idea. The level of girls coming through is good. It’s in its infancy, but the more girls that get involved, the better. They deserve the opportunity.”
Listen to the full interview below …