Paul McGrath has committed to helping Tullamore Town FC out with fundraising in the future, after spending more than three hours at the club last Friday, August 30.
Mr McGrath made the trip to Tullamore from his home in Wexford as a result of an order by Judge Alan Mitchell in July, when he appeared before Tullamore District Court on public order offences relating to June 29 last.
He headed up a coaching session with 80 youths at the club grounds from 4pm last Friday, before chatting for up to 90 minutes with some 15 of the club’s coaching staff about his career.
“Paul would have been my favourite player for Ireland,” Tullamore Town FC child welfare officer and U16 girls’ coach Eanna Gowran told the Offaly Independent. “I was absolutely delighted to meet him.”
“I was very impressed with him,” he added. “I know it might not have been easy for him.”
Paul arrived at Leah Victoria Park on the outskirts of Tullamore at 4pm for the low-key session, and was greeted by 80 youngsters between the ages of ten and 16 keen to get a few football tips from him.
Though Paul explained that he didn’t have any coaching experience with young people, Eanna said the session was a great one.
“He was absolutely fantastic with the kids,” he said. The coaching session that lasted two hours included drills, tips and some mini-matches that saw Paul play with the young players.
“He’s still in great shape,” Eanna said, “but he’s struggling with his knees.”
Though Paul’s football career that included playing with Ireland, Aston Villa and Manchester United came before many of his young charges were born, Eanna said they needed no convincing of his greatness after being told of his career. “Most told me their dads had showed them pictures and clips of Paul on YouTube,” he added.
It wasn’t just Tullamore Town FC members who were impressed with Paul however; Paul was also impressed with the club’s first class facilities. “He told the kids ‘If I had this when I was growing up I’d be ten times the player’,” Eanna said.
Paul has an additional fan this week too. Niamh Gorry from Clara who plays with the Tullamore Town FC U16 girls was meant to attend last Friday’s training session, but missed out after her lift didn’t turn up.
After hearing about this from Eanna last Tuesday, Paul agreed to sign Niamh’s Offaly football jersey and return it in the post to make up for the missed training session.
After the training session Paul joined about 15 coaches for a chat that lasted well over an hour.
“He said he was made feel very at home,” Eanna said. “We went through the different stages of his career and had a great chat.”
That chat included Paul revealing that he’s been a Chelsea supporter since childhood, and that Aston Villa was his favourite club to play with.
Paul also committed to helping out with fundraising for the club in the future. “He was genuine about that,” Eanna said, adding that he mentioned in again on the phone last Tuesday.
The Tullamore Town FC season has this week kicked off, with 15 schoolboy/girl teams playing in leagues. U7, U8 and U9 teams will meet on Saturday at 12.30pm, with all welcome to join.