The 2018 FAI Festival of Football got underway today as the FAI delegation made stops at six different clubs in West Cork, including Kinsale AFC who were awarded a grant worth €100,000 for their clubhouse development.
Now in its 12th year, the Festival of Football is an opportunity for the FAI to highlight the excellent work being done by grassroots clubs by making official visits and giving something back.
Led by FAI CEO John Delaney, the delegation - which was made up of FAI President Tony Fitzgerald, former Republic of Ireland internationals Ray Houghton and Richard Dunne, current Ireland WNT players Amber Barrett and Roma McLaughlin, Ireland Under 17 Head Coach Colin O'Brien, and FAI staff - started what will be a week-long expedition around Cork.
The first stop was at Jake O'Donoghue Park, where Inishvilla SC showcased their impressive facilities and officially opened a new shower area with Jim Daly TD and Senator Tim Lombard in attendance.
Next up was Kinsale AFC, who welcomed the delegation to Madden Park - overlooking the picturesque River Bandon - and were awarded a grant worth €100,000 to help with the development of their clubhouse.
It was then on to Bandon AFC and the More Than A Club initiative staged a special session on Football Memories, while Michael Collins TD was present to hear about plans for an all-weather pitch.
A visit to Castletown Celtic followed and two special guests were in attendance in Minister Michael Creed and Cork City manager John Caulfield. FAI CEO John Delaney committed to helping the club purchase machinery to aid with their pitch maintenance.
At Dunmanway Town SC, a number of mini games took place as the club's underage players showed off their skills and mixed with the Ireland internationals present.
The FAI delegation reached Skibbereen AFC and were given an enthusiastic greeting as they were guided around the Baltimore Road facility to assess the fantastic playing surfaces, which will soon have two new sets of small-sided goal posts that were promised.
Finally, FAI CEO John Delaney and President Tony Fitzgerald attended the West Cork Schoolboy League Awards in Celtic Ross Hotel, where 20 different awards were given out.
Each club received specific grants, as well as match tickets for kids to attend a Republic of Ireland MNT game at Aviva Stadium, and a commitment to continue aiding their plans for future development.
The Festival of Football continues on Saturday with five more club visits along with appearances at the FAI Women's Football Convention and the Confederation of Republic of Ireland Supporters Clubs AGM in Rochestown Park Hotel.