Citing a desire to spend more time with his family, Sean Ireland has resigned as Norwalk’s head football coach after an eight-year tenure over nine years.
“My son is at the age you know,” Ireland said of his decision. “I miss more and more of his stuff. It got harder and harder.”
Ireland said he’s thought about how this would be his last season throughout the year.
“I was thinking about it, towards the end of the year, we played a game…” Ireland paused. “It was time. I said to myself, if I am thinking about it the decision is already made.”
Ireland’s son is 7-years old and plays football, baseball and basketball. But Ireland said he doesn’t plan on coaching him. “I just want to watch him (play),” Ireland said.
Ireland, who took over for Pete Tucci in the 2011 season, led the Bears to a 5-5 record this season and finished his tenure with a 41-39 overall record.
“This is a huge loss for the Norwalk football program,” Norwalk athletic director Doug Marchetti said. “Sean has been involved since 1998, he worked his way up through the ranks.”
Thank you Coach Ireland for your dedication to the Norwalk football program. We truly appreciate all you have done and the sacrifices you have made on behalf of our student-athletes! We wish you and your family nothing but the best! #bearpride pic.twitter.com/jkEsobuArJ
— Norwalk Bears (@norwalkhsbears) December 2, 2019
Ireland, a 1996 graduate of Norwalk who played for the Bears from 1992-1995, first joined the coaching staff in 1998. He spent five years as the Bears’ offensive coordinator under Tucci until being elevated to head coach.
Ireland’s best season as head coach was his first year. The Bears reached the Class LL semifinals, their first playoff berth in 13 years. The Bears defeated Conard in the quarterfinals and lost to the eventual champion Xavier. It turned out to be Ireland’s only playoff appearance.
Ireland took off the 2014 season for personal reasons and assistant Pat Moffett coached the team in his absence. Ireland returned for 2015.
Despite that, Ireland said that it’s the molding of his players into men that he will miss the most. “I hope I installed values in these young men that, years down the road, they remember,” he said.
Ireland coached a number of players who went on to play in college, including Evan Adams (Syracuse) and James Makszin (Rhode Island).
He will remain at Norwalk as a health and physical education teacher. “I love the town of Norwalk, the community, the schools,” he said. “I was born and raised here.”
Marchetti said that the program is going to miss Ireland. “He’s always done it the right way,” he said. “He’s great representative of Norwalk.”
Marchetti said Norwalk will post the job vacancy as soon as possible. “It’s something I want to get moving on sooner rather than later,” he said. “The longer we wait the further behind the 8-Ball we will be.”
Correction: A previous version of this story omitted that Ireland took the season off in 2014. It has been updated to reflect that he officially coached eight seasons and his career record has been updated.