With the 2023 FAI Female Coaching Conference taking place in Letterkenny, it was fitting that Donegal native Brid McGinty would be the recipient of the Noel O’Reilly Coach of the Year Award.
As a child, McGinty tugged on her father’s coattails to follow him down to the local club where he coached. She didn’t know it then but her love for coaching had been ignited.
Fast forward to today and the UEFA A Licence graduate is being recognised for her profound impact on coaching in her native county with current Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team players Amber Barrett and Ciara Grant amongst many who have benefitted from her positive approach.
In many ways, McGinty is a shining example for female coaches as she has advanced along the Coach Education Pathway - making notable strides along the way. She insists that it has been an enjoyable journey since starting her PDP1 in 2007.
Brid McGinty accepting the Noel O'Reilly Coach of the Year Award from FAI President Gerry McAnaney at the FAI Female Coaching Conference in Donegal. SPORTSFILE
“I think a lot of female coaches would have traditionally gone as high as maybe PDP 2 level, but over the last couple of years that has changed. You can see it in the Women’s National League at Under-17 and Under-19. Female coaches are now not afraid to put themselves forward on the coaching pathway and to take up roles,” stated McGinty.
It was a desire to help put structures in place for girls that originally prompted McGinty to get involved with Lagan Harps. Once in, she was never going to back out.
A lot of success has since followed but it is the memories and relationships that she treasures the most, from her time with Gaynor Cup squads, the Donegal Women’s League Academy, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Letterkenny Rovers, Donegal Women’s League and serving as Chairperson of the FAI North West Women’s Football Committee.
McGinty’s coaching progression is far from finished – with the UEFA Youth A Licence next in her sights – and she feels that more women should volunteer at their local clubs to start on their own pathway, with the FAI Coach Education courses providing the perfect envirnoment for them to develop as a coach.
She explained: “You go in initially and you’re nervous and think that male coaches know far more but when you strip it all back the information that I have is the information that they have. So it’s how you explain that to the player.
“Then I did the Female-only UEFA B Licence course and I thought that that was brilliant. I grew more confident in that and that gave me the pathway into the A Licence. The A Licence course was a mixed group (male and female) and the networking in that group was brilliant. You learn so much from everyone and I think the Pathway, as a whole, is excellent.”
While she is incredibly proud of her coaching achievements, McGinty is quick to share any praise with the numerous people who have helped her along the way. Perhaps that is why she is a worthy winner of the Noel O’Reilly Coach of the Year Award.
Receiving the Award at the FAI Female Coaching Conference in her hometown makes it even more special.
McGinty said: “Having the FAI Female Coaching Conference in Donegal is massive. We’re in a bad area, location-wise, as a lot of events are in Dublin, Galway, Cork and that can affect female coaches who cannot always attend. So having it in places like Donegal is brilliant because it is two days of learning from top class speakers and mixing with other coaches.”
The FAI Female Coaching Conference included keynote speeches from Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team Manager Vera Pauw, FAI Director of Football Marc Canham, FAI Head of Women and Girls’ Football Eileen Gleeson and Sports Psychologist Sarah Murray.
There was also a practical on-pitch session led by Ireland Women’s Under-17 Head Coach James Scott and an interactive workshop to engage all participants.
The Noel O’Reilly Coach of the Year Award is named in honour of former Republic of Ireland coach Noel O’Reilly, who was influential in driving coaching forward in Ireland across all levels of the game. The Award recognises coaches in a volunteer position at their respective clubs.