League of Ireland Legend Declan ‘Fabio’ O’Brien believes amateur football has plenty of players that wouldn’t look out of place in League of Ireland stadiums.
The Drogheda cult hero admits he still has to get acclimatized to all things amateur football and specifically LSL, a league he will both play and manage in next term, but is aware the amateur ranks are full of players with pro capabilities.
The former Drogheda, Dundalk and Patrick’s Athletic player takes the reigns at LSL Senior 1 Sunday side Verona more and seems to be aware he will be up against some players with the talent but not the time to play LOI for peanuts.
“I don’t think there is too much difference in quality,” he told Between the Stripes podcast.
” I think you find they (league Of Ireland players) end up training more, a few days a week extra and you see the difference in fitness and sharpness.
“You look at the Crumlins and the Sheriffs, I know players at that level with decent and regular training would have no issue playing in the League of Ireland. It’s one of those, where do players want to commit to it and when players get to a certain age they don’t want to commit for peanuts. You understand young lads training four or five nights a week because they having a carrot at the end of the stick in terms of possibly going across the water.”
It’s an assessment most would agree with, but despite calling that right ‘Fabio’ admits he faces an LSL acclimatization period.
“I will go to a couple of games and I will do a bit of research. I have a couple of people that around me that have been in that league for a couple of years so I have a network around me that will help. It will take me a couple of months to get up to speed, but it’s a different challenge.” continued before revealing how he ended up as manager of Verona.
“To be honest it was something that started a few years ago. After I left them I always kept in good contact with the club and I decided to set up the academy’s there from four year old to nine year olds. Time wise while I was still involved I had to step away as such, but both my kids are involved in the club and I was involved in the club 18 years ago, so it was a no brianer for me to come back and play one more year and as a player manager its even better. I can pick and chose the games I play and if I feel fatigued in anyway I can take myself out.”
The legendary Drogs man and now respected pundit is looking forward to the new role and the challenge of working with amateur players, but isn’t viewing it as a stepping stone toward returning to the LOI as a manager.
“It’s a different challenge and one I am looking forward to. To try and get players to buy into something without getting paid and having to be there. It’s different dynamic in terms of what you can even say to people, as I said it’s different territory, but exciting,” he continued before knocking back suggestions he may want to progress back to the league.
“When you have family is it a difficult one. How many jobs are out there for League of Ireland managers. If you become reliant on something like that it’s to precarious a situation. It’s not something I am actually looking at the minute, but I am definitely going to enjoy a different role as a gaffer. I always like to learn different things and take myself out of my comfort zone and try different things.”
— Between the Stripes (@betweenstripes) July 14, 2017