Sporting heroes usually come with the stamp of the years marking feats and achievements spread over years which end in middle age. How then do I deal with the sporting career of a 17 year old Athy boy who now plays with one of Scotland’s premier league clubs, Hibernians. Cody Mulhall is the proud possessor of a talent which was recognised at a very young age by overseas scouts from Fulham, Westham, Blackburn, Derby and Everton. All of these clubs invited Cody to join their soccer academies, but in the end Cody decided to take up the offer of Hibernian Football Club, the Edinburgh based club founded by Irish emigrants in 1875.
Cody’s soccer career started when he was 9 years of age. It was St. Anne’s Club in Ballylinan which for two years nurtured the young talent under the tutelage of Des Cooney and Frank Brophy. A move back to his home town team, Athy A.F.C., followed and there under the guidance of Pat May and Brian Hickey he played over three years on the under 11, under 12 and under 13 aged teams. His first footballing medals were won as a member of the Under 12 team which won the Kildare League and the Kildare Cup in 2008. During his time at Athy A.F.C. Cody was chosen to train with the Kildare Academy and the specialised training for elite young players from around the county involved Sunday morning training, in addition to club training during the week.
In March 2009 Cody suffered his first set back when in a practice game at his school, Ardscoil na Tríonóide, he suffered a broken leg just three months before an important Kennedy Cup Tournament in Limerick which was to involve the County Kildare team of which he was a member. He recovered in time to play a key role representing his county’s Under 13 team which went on to win the Limerick tournament.
That same year Stella Maris Soccer Club in Dublin, whose Chairman is the legendary Johnny Giles, approached Cody’s mother to have the talented school boy join their ranks. For the next three years Cody played for Stella Maris youth teams at under 14, 15 and 16 years. During his first year with the Dublin club Cody was selected to participate in the Emerging Talent Programme operated by the F.A.I. This required additional training one evening a week in Beaumont with a panel of young players from all over Ireland. The programme lasted for two years and the initial panel of 30 players was in time reduced to 22 players, with Cody retaining his place for the duration of the programme.
Almost inevitably Cody was chosen to play for Ireland and his first international was at Under 15 level in an away match against Finland. Since then Cody has played approximately 10 internationals at Under 17 and Under 19 age levels, and his most recent international match was played in Dublin against Norway.
Many U.K. soccer talent scouts have beaten a path to Caroline Mulhall’s door in Athy in an attempt to sign her talented young son. The London based clubs of Fulham and West Ham joined Everton, Derby and Blackburn in giving trials to Cody, but it’s Hibernian Soccer Club of the Scottish Premier League who signed Cody on a two year professional contract. He has played approximately 14 matches for Hibernians in the Under 20 Scottish League and to date has scored 10 goals.
The Hibernian team recently travelled to Derry to participate in the Foyle Cup and Cody featured on the team which won that competition. He has also featured as part of a 22 man Hibernian panel for Scottish Premier League games. Given his progress to date his inclusion on the first team panel may not be too far away.
Cody’s grandfather was the late Dan Foley, who with his brother Paddy ‘Skinner’ Foley were footballers of note for Rheban. Undoubtedly the footballing talent has passed down through the generations to the delight of his mother Caroline and his grandmother Ber Foley.