St Patrick's Athletic are delighted to announce an official partnership with Belvedere FC.
This new agreement will see both clubs working together in the best interests of our young players moving forward during changing times in Irish football.
Saints' Director of Football Ger O'Brien spoke to StPatsFC.Com after meeting some of the Belvedere players and managers at their training base in Clontarf earlier in the week.
"Belvedere FC has had a fantastic tradition of developing some of the best young players in the country over the last number of years and we are really happy to have agreed a partnership with them."
"The landscape of both schoolboy and League of Ireland football has changed and will continue to evolve over the next few years with the addition of the U15 and U13 National Leagues, and we are looking forward to working with Belvedere throughout that process."
Creating a realistic player pathway is something Ger was keen to stress.
"We feel that a huge amount of work has been put in by Belvedere to help develop players and our plan would be to continue that and give these players a pathway to playing League of Ireland football with St Pat's after their time in the DDSL."
Nine former Belvedere players (pic attached) helped the St Pat's U17s win the SSE Airtricity League of Ireland Elite Division title in 2016, while the team was managed by Jamie Moore and Darragh O'Reilly who also have strong connections to Belvedere.
Although this partnership has only just been agreed, there is already a track record of Belvedere players and coaches successfully moving to St Pat's as Ger explains.
"As the photo above shows, there has been a consistent presence of ex Belvedere players in our underage teams over the last couple of years. With the U15 league starting this July and the U13 league in the future, we hope to continue this trend and make it stronger."
Former Belvedere players Chris Forrester and Jake Carroll both made the move to the UK from St Pat's while defender Conor Fowler also signed for Chesterfield in July 2016 having moved to St Patrick's U17s from Belvedere. Michael Barker is also a current member of our first team squad.
Ger outlined the route St Pat's are taking in terms of development partnerships with Belvedere and other clubs in Dublin, including Crumlin United.
"Forming partnerships with a number of top schoolboy clubs is something quite new but we feel it's the best way forward for our club, the schoolboy clubs and most importantly the players. It's unique in terms of having more than one club affiliated to St Pat's but the plans we have regarding our player pathway, education and development will be as good as any other model in the country."
"This is not going to be a case of us simply taking players from these schoolboy clubs, we want to form proper relationships and will be providing various types of support to our partner clubs."
"This is an exciting project for everyone to be involved in and we plan to further develop and grow it in the coming weeks, months and years."
Belvedere club Chairman Jimmy Scurry spoke to BelvedereFC.Com about the announcement.
"This is our first venture in being officially affiliated to a professional club and we're very much looking forward to the potential it offers for both our players and our club as a whole. We believe that our link-up with one of the League of Ireland's top clubs will, over time produce big dividends for both clubs."
"I'd like wish to thank St Pat's Director of Football Ger O'Brien, First Team Manager Liam Buckley and their team for their professionalism, commitment and understanding throughout the process."
Belvedere Director of Coaching Darragh O'Reilly, who is also is St Pat's U17 Assistant Manager, also gave us his reaction to the agreement.
"I'm really pleased that the link up is in place and we can now officially announce it. Since the idea was first explored there has been a willingness on both sides for it to happen so it's nice to get it done."
"In my opinion the link up is a very positive move for both clubs and I think that it will prove to be very successful over the coming years."