Dubliner Harry McCue has played and managed soccer on three continents which makes him well equipped to coach in a growing multicultural pool of players in the Republic of Ireland.
As director of coaching at the Cabra Sports Complex on Dublin’s northside, Harry has nurtured over 250 players in a blended learning facility combining soccer skill development with technical skill attainment, which is very much in line with the EU Plan for Sport.
Over the years, Cabra has graduated trainees from Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Congo, mixed with indigenous Irish youngsters from the northside in an atmosphere that fosters cultural integration and social inclusion while developing the holistic soccer player. The centre has also supplied graduates that have become the backbone of many League of Ireland clubs.
Lately, many Irish players have come ashore after spending their teenage years with UK clubs, and finding themselves replaced by talent from academies in France, Germany, Ghana and Nigeria. The change can be a difficult one for the boys, and requires one-to-one mentoring in order to rebuild their confidence. This is a growing concern for the coaches in the FAI’s Education and Training Board programme.
Another part of Harry’s brief is as coach with the Republic of Ireland under-21 side alongside manager Noel King. Both are from the Markets area of Dublin’s north inner city and complement each other very well, having started their careers together with Home Farm at 12 years old.
They are currently preparing their charges for the forthcoming Uefa European Championship qualifying round games against Italy (24 March in Waterford) and away to Slovenia (28 March).
For Harry McCue, football is a family affair. His father captained the Republic of Ireland amateurs against Scotland in 1954 while skipper at Bohemians FC. He went on to captain Limerick FC in their first League of Ireland Championship win in 1959-60 season.
Cousins Fran and Ray O’Brien were both capped at senior level for the Republic of Ireland, while his sister Siobhan was a pioneering player in the women’s game.
Harry’s brother Ken is a founder member of Sport Against Racism Ireland (Sari) and has drawn inspiration from the experience gained by the rest of this soccer-skilled family over the years.
Harry can reflect on a very fruitful career in the game. After making his senior debut with Home Farm, he went on to play for Shamrock Rovers, later winning cup and league titles with Athlone Town, and Dundalk. While with the San Diego Sockers in the United States he played alongside and learned from the Polish legend Kazimierz Deyna.
At Glentoran in Belfast, Harry played during the height of the Troubles where soccer held firm against sectarianism and hatred. His experience at the multicultural club of Warringah Dolphins in Sydney, Australia provided him with an awareness that the game could make a major contribution to the development of a cohesive and harmonious society free of discrimination back home in Ireland.
On his return to manage Drogheda FC, bringing them into the Premier League, Harry was the prime mover in establishing the Football Managers Association. One of their first moves was to call for the setting up of an all-Ireland soccer league that would regenerate the game here and contribute to harmonious cross-border relations.
Harry still believes in this concept and is a big supporter of the Sari anti-sectarian programme Living Together Through Football, that also involves his old club Glentoran FC as strategic partners.
This is part one of a new series for Metro Éireann Sport presented by Sport Against Racism Ireland (Sari)