Caoimhe Ní Shúilleabháin, Belgium GAA Chairman & Ladies’ Footballer
Declan trained Belgium ladies Gaelic football team in the run up to their encounter with the UK champions in the Junior Club All-Ireland championship in 2016. I would say his was no easy task – coming on board a well-established team, largely autonomous from a coaching point of view and with lots of strong voices and opinions, partly as a result of that. Added to that, our team had a majority of players who were unfamiliar for the most part with the 15 aside format and we had a short time to prepare for it. However, the transition was a smooth one thanks to Declan being well prepared from the beginning but also, I believe, because he showed he was open to learning from us also. He respected the fact that training a ladies team was a task that was largely unfamiliar to him. Declan managed the limited training sessions he had with us well from the beginning and gave us his 100% in the few weeks we had to prepare for the competition. He also pushed the players to give their 100%, but never in a negative way – feedback was always very constructive. His training sessions were well thought out and planned but he also adapted to conditions on the spot when necessary. He communicated well and clearly with players at all times and all appreciated his encouragement and approach to training. Having Declan with us for our preparations for that big match was a great bonus to us. We really appreciate the time and effort he put into it and we’re hoping we might be able to convince him to come back at some stage this season!