Coach Focus: David McHugh

David McHugh

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I am the U15 coach with Finn Harps. Originally from Athlone but living in Donegal Town. I have worked with Athlone Town and Longford Town academy teams and I have completed the UEFA A Youth Elite coaching licence. I am also a Sport Psychologist where I work with athletes and teams and I am the Programme Director for the MSc in Applied Sport & Exercise Psychology at Setanta College.

What attracted you to a coaching role with Harps and what do you look to bring to the role?

One thing that has been clear since I started is there is a lot of people doing a lot of good work throughout the club and there is a real community of people working together to support and develop the club at all levels. I had heard great things about the work being done in the academy and I was lucky enough to get to come in towards the end of last year to see some of the work being done across the different age groups. What I thought was great to see was the club working with players from the youngest age groups at U10 and U11 right through to national league. You can see the benefits of that when players get to national league and they are not only competing with the best in the country but they are among the best players in the country.

What I look to bring to the role is to build on the work Conrad does with the u14s and to help players progress to the U17s and then to the U19s and first team football. I am big on the players constantly looking to improve and getting the most from every session and we have individual learning plans for each player. Myself and Eunan McDaid (Assistant Coach) will set players specific challenges in training linked to their individual learning plan. A key part of my role is to drive home high standards for the group and we are putting a big emphasis on strength and conditioning as it is a big physical step up for players to U17 football next season. Although not every player will play first team football, a key part of the role is to ensure the players enjoy their football and I think the players are enjoying the challenge of getting better.

Tell about your history with Finn Harps?

(Earliest memory, favourite player, favourite moment, favourite thing about match day, favourite away ground, whatever you want?)

My first match was last June when Finn Harps played St. Pats. St. Pats started well and were 2-0 up for most of the game until a few changes were made and Finn Harps scored 2 in the last few minutes! It showed me the spirit in the club and a never give up attitude which is important we try and instil in the players in the academy aswell.

How do you want to see the club and academy develop in the coming years?

I think all the coaches work well together and Kevin McHugh is always trying to look at ways we can develop the academy. I think Dave Rogers and Darren Murphy have a real interest in bringing players through from the academy and as academy coaches we need to get players into a position where they are good enough to train with the first team. For me with the U15s, to bridge the gap with the first team we are looking at bringing the players in during the day when on school holidays so they can experience what it is like to train like professional players. I think this will bring players on in terms of their development.