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Managerial merry-go-rounds are nothing too surprising at any level of football and it’s something that the Continental Tyres Women’s National League isn’t immune from either.
Conor O’Grady’s appointment as manager of Castlebar Celtic flew under the radar last week, but it is definitely another positive step as the League continues to move forward.
O’Grady may be a young man in managerial terms, but he has been there and done it as a player in the SSE Airtricity League with Sligo Rovers, Cork City and Derry City - most notably helping Sligo lift the FAI Cup in the Aviva Stadium in 2010.
The Sligo native’s experience as a player is something that cannot be bought and will undoubtedly benefit both Castlebar and the WNL. But his apppointment also brings the total of managers in the League with experience in the men's top level in Ireland up to four - following Don O'Riordan, Will Doyle, and Christy Lougheed.
For 35-year-old O’Grady, the decision to step into the WNL cauldron sees him take the next step in his career as he is due to complete his UEFA B coaching licence shortly.
“It’s very exciting to get involved in senior football,” explained O’Grady. “There’s limited opportunity in this part of the country to manage at a national level.
“To be honest, I’m very new to this level, but I’ve worked under Brian Kerr, Pat Dolan, Paul Cook and Stephen Kenny, I think I learnt a lot from those guys.”
Working under those SSE Airtricity League managers and bringing that experience to the WNL will no doubt assist the League as it continues to develop because the more people involved with a passion and knowledge for the game the better.
“Women’s football is growing,” explained O’Grady. “I would have been ignorant to it in the past, but I recognised it through both the FAI's Emerging Talent Programme and the WNL.
“I know Mark Samson’s name (England Women's national team head coach), would I have known who their manager was three or four years ago?”
O'Grady is right: the League, and women’s football in general, is growing, and the learning can go both ways as he admits that he has a lot to learn from other coaches around the League.
Ger McDermott was Raheny United’s manager for the opening WNL season - winning the WFAI Cup in 2012 - and was a key part of Liam Buckley’s St. Patrick’s Athletic backroom staff when they won the SSE Airtricity League in 2013.
So there is a learning curve in both women’s and men’s football - a long road that we both walk.

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