Goalkeeping coach John Power sat down for a chat with UCDSOCCER.COM
John Power is our Goalkeeping Coach. He’s 39 and ¾ (he would do and say anything to avoid uttering the number 40). He grew up in Dublin but now lives in Co. Wicklow and away from UCD works as a Controller for a multinational medical device company.
John is the eldest of three siblings, and has two children with his wife Linda, Alex is 7 and Caitlin is 5.
“I started playing football at the age of 7, to be honest I was never going to be a world beater. The skills went to my brother and I just stopped people from playing.” (that’s funny... first team coach Collie O’Neill said the same last week!)
When he finished his Leaving cert, John went on to study Sports and Leisure Management and worked for Lifestyle Sports for five years as a manager, then spent a year with a small company called Sports Style. He finally got out of the retail business and into Logistics where he has worked for the last 14 years. His UCD background has even seen him go back to college to start a degree in Logistics and Transport.
As a player John played at centre half or rightful with Ballybrack Boys and St Joseph Boys in Sallynoggin, and even played a bit of rugby with Seapoint RFC.
“At 14 the penny dropped and I realised I was not going to play a lot as an outfield player with Joeys so I left and joined Loughlinstown Boys as a goalkeeper, this was not such a strange decision as my father was a keeper but I never played in goal. We won the league and I loved my first year as a GK.”
The following year was decision time as rugby and football were both on a Sunday morning, and enivetably John chose footy, staying with Loughlinstown until he was 17 when the team broke up. Spells with TEK Utd , Drogheda utd and Homefarm Everton followed but the majority of his career was in the Leinster Senior League were he won promotions and cups with Casement Utd.
Coaching has always been in John’s blood, and after coaching tennis and volleyball in college, he began coaching football at 26.
“I stopped enjoying playing so I started to coach at Joeys , I would coach second teams and develop players for the premier teams every year I would move two or three players up and that was my satisfaction.”
As a coach, John has had plenty of experience with a number of different clubs. Ballybrack, St Joseph’s Boys and Arklow Town schoolboy and Leinster Senior League as well the Wicklow league Kennedy cup squad and the south east FAI Regional Development centre in Bunclody. He has also worked with UCD U21 and A Championship teams and now with the first team.
John started at UCD in March 2007, which makes this his 6th season at the club.
“I have not worked at any other professional clubs, but I find is that the small group of people we have are all working in the same direction and try to bring the club forward and more importantly is to develop the players as footballers and as individuals.”
“I have worked with Martin when he was 1st team coach and now as manager, his knowledge of the game and how it should be played is immense. I have learned a lot from him over the last 6 years.”
Working with younger players is something John enjoys: “I have been very lucky with the goalkeepers I have had to work with, the current group of Ger Barron, Mark McGinley and John Kelly and the new group of U19 keepers are all really hard workers and willing to learn and wanting to develop, with this group we are in safe hands.”
“Young players will make poor decisions and make mistakes, that is part of their development. It is how they come out the far side of those errors that can sometimes be a guide on how far they can go.”
Being a Premier Division coach has its challenges but they are ones which John enjoys:
“I try and get as much movement into the sessions as I can, but the most important part of the session is the games, I give the keepers one or two things to work on when they go into the game.”
Thinking back to his favourite memory of his time at UCD, John says: “Winning the first division after being relegated the previous season, it was Martin’s first season in charge and we had a completely new team. We were given no chance but we won it playing football and not trying to kick our way out of it.”
As with every club, injuries and illness hit UCD, and when the goalkeepers can’t train, John has to jump in goal to make up the numbers. Some of the lads claim he isin’t very good but they don’t know what they are talking out (well they do really but let’s be nice to John)
“ I’m coming up to my 40th birthday every time a shot comes at me I know I should be moving for it but the body won’t allow it. I only get stick off one person that is Paul O’Conor (the granddad aged 25) because he is the nearest in terms of age to me, but before the game starts I tell I am old and I won’t take it from him. After the games I am in bits for two days but I do enjoy it, especially on the very odd occasion I make a top save and roll back the clock 15 years.”
As we spoke about last week with first team coach Collie O’Neill, balancing a full time job, a family and work at UCD is difficult at times:
“Probably the hardest thing is to balance everything, my wife Linda and the kids are very understanding and their needs are always my priority, but Martin and Diarmuid are always aware of time and effort put in by everyone in the club and try as much as possible to keep the balance right.”
Recent wins over Shels and Cork City mean UCD are now off the bottom of the table and John is sure the club will be in the Premier Division next season:
“Yes we can stay up, some of our performances warranted more than we got out of games. I think the players we have are learning all the time and we will put in a really strong final round of games.
John currently holds a UEFA B licence in goalkeeping and in outfield coach, and is currently on the UEFA A licence courses in both fields but is not sure about being a manager:
“I don’t think I will be a manager, I enjoy doing what I am doing at the moment but you never know what the future holds.