Departed Derry City youth coach, John Quigg, has described James McClean’s 2008 breakthrough into Stephen Kenny’s first team as a major moment in the club’s youth development programme.
Having over seen the development of the likes of McClean, Ronan Curtis, Rory Holden, David McDaid, Barry McNamee, Conor McDermott, Ciaron Harkin, Georgie Kelly and Michael Duffy, all of whom worked under Quigg before graduating to senior football.
Quigg described McClean as the first ‘big player’ to make the break through to the senior side.
“I came in 2006 when Peter Moran asked me to join him after working and playing for a number of years at Institute under Paul Kee, Pascal Vaudequin and Paul Hegarty and I have to admit, James McClean breaking into Stephen Kenny’s side was big for us,” he stated.
“James joined us from Institute and forced his way into the Derry first team and, as everyone knows, he has continued to work hard at his game and is now a first team regular for Ireland.
“Myself, Peter, Hugh Harkin Georgie Harkin and Eddie Seydak were all working together at youth level and we won the Enda McGill Cup in 2007 with the U21s. We had Davy McDaid, James, Eugene Ferry, Ruairi Harkin and boys like that, but James was our bright spark. He scored on his debut against Bohs and the rest is history.
James McClean breaking into Stephen Kenny’s side was big for us.John Quigg
“When Eddie was in charge of the Youth Development, myself and Hugh were in charge of the U19s. Then we brought in Gary Duffy and Ronan O’Donnell to take the U17s and it was working a treat and the reason for that was because youth level in Derry finished at 16, so the better players at 17 were coming to Derry and there was no hassle.
“Now the new academy has gone down as far as U15 and U13 level so that has made things a lot tougher for everyone.”
Some of those players who Quigg helped in their early part of their career lauded their former manager, with Ireland international McClean praising Quigg.
“I worked with John and Peter Moran before getting into the Derry first team and both of them helped my game and pushed me to get into Stephen Kenny’s first team,” said McClean.
Dundalk pair Kelly and Duffy were also full of praise for their ex-youth team gaffer.
“When I came in the door at Derry at 16, Quiggy was fantastic,” stated Kelly.
“He’s extremely passionate about getting young players through to play senior football. I’ve a huge amount of admiration for John and for what he’s done for my career and for the club. I wish him all the best in the future.”
While Duffy, who played a major role in Dundalk’s double winning success last year, also complemented Quigg.
“I worked under Quiggy for five years and he was brilliant for me,” admitted the 2018 PFAI Player of the Year winner.
“He helped me a lot as a player and helped make the push up to Derry’s first team. He was a great manager, who always got the team up for a game, no matter who we were playing.”