Starting a new job isn’t easy.
In that case, starting a new job, in conjunction with the formation of a brand-new football team, certainly isn’t a cakewalk either.
Yet, for Phil Trill, the newly-appointed manager of the newly-founded Galway United Women’s FC, this job is the culmination of years of hard work. The nerves, if there are any, are an afterthought.
His side will replace Galway Women’s FC (WFC) in the Women’s National League for the 2023 season, following the decision to withdraw the team from the league in September 2022.
At 29, he is the youngest manager in the Irish Women’s National League and the League of Ireland as a whole. Yet, having been involved in coaching for over a decade already, Trill is more than capable of holding his own in senior management.
As Trill explains, his early start to coaching was enforced, more than anything, “I was a bang average player and tore the meniscus in my knee when I was about 15. So, at that point, I said ‘well, if I can’t play, I might be able to help’, and that’s all it was really.”
It was from there that Trill began coaching with his local club, Corrib Rangers. His involvement began with mentoring the youngest age groups at the club – finding his feet just as they were finding theirs.
With Rangers, Trill feels that he picked up several fundamentals of his coaching philosophy that remain with him to this day: “Putting in that graft for a number of years was really important and a really big part of my development,” he explains.
“Learning to deal with young children and learning to hold myself accountable as a young person myself was really important … it teaches you a lot about self-efficacy and how to behave.”
The injury did not curtail Trill’s playing career entirely, as he progressed to the Galway United U19 team as a goalkeeper, and was named in several matchday squads with the first team.
Although he never made a senior appearance for the Tribesmen, Trill credits the experience as a hugely influential one: “I just remember how proud I was to sign for Galway United. At that stage of my life, it was everything to me, it was my local club, and the people I watched on Friday nights.
“Just training with the squad and being in the matchday squads was a really positive experience. It taught me an awful lot about dealing with the environment and culture of elite-level football.”
Trill’s time with that iteration of Galway United was cut short as the club folded following the 2011 League of Ireland season. However, he was not pushed away from the game, and continued coaching locally, this time with Salthill Devon.
He remained with Devon for several years, before taking the first step into elite-level coaching by beginning to complete his UEFA B coaching licence at the age of 23, while still in college and studying to become a secondary school teacher.
A part-time coaching role with the Football Association of Ireland soon followed before a spell coaching with Knocknacarra. Soon after, Trill was approached to become the manager of the under-17 team at Galway Women’s FC
His time in charge at under-17 level proved hugely successful, yielding a league and cup double in 2019, as well as travelling to Portugal to claim the Lisbon Cup after defeating Benfica on penalties in the final.
A spell in charge of the under-19s followed before Trill was appointed as assistant manager to Alan Murphy ahead of the 2022 Women’s National League season.
Having previously played under Murphy while at Galway United’s academy, Trill gives credit to the Tribesmen legend for playing a key part in his development as a manager: “I learned loads from Alan, he’s a really good guy and has such good knowledge about football.
“He’s got tremendous experience of high-performing league environments and taught me a lot within that year of senior football.
“I had a good understanding of underage female football, but I also now have an understanding of senior-level football. Hopefully, that stands me in good stead for this season and the seasons ahead.”
Now in charge of a senior side that contains several players that Trill won silverware with at academy level, including Anna Fahey, Abbie Callanan, and Therese Kinnevey, fans will be hoping to see the side eventually challenge for trophies.
Trill, like anyone involved in the game, wants to bring success to the club, but says that the priority in the team’s first season is to create a sustainable, engaging team for fans to enjoy, “You always want to be there competing for silverware, but we just want to make sure that we have all the supports in place for our players this year that will help them develop.”
“I suppose if you continue to develop then winning games and silverware will be a by-product of that development. But, this season, the most important thing for us is a sustainable brand of football that attracts and engages people to come and watch.”
With a new team on the block, with one of the most exciting up-and-coming managers in Ireland, perhaps there is no better time to start following the women’s game.