Reading FC Academy Manager Eamonn Dolan sadly lost his battle against cancer today, passing away at the age of just 48. All of us here at The Tilehurst End wish to pass on our condolences to his friends and family.
Dolan had been forced to retire from playing in 1993 after discovering he had testicular cancer, but the Irishman successfully battled back against the disease and went on to have a successful coaching career that included a stint managing Exeter City between 2003 and 2004.
It was from there that Dolan would make the move to Reading, being appointed to head up Reading's fledgling Academy after Brendan Rodgers departed for Chelsea. It was there that Eamonn would go on to have fantastic success, nurturing through a group that's clocked up thousands of first team appearances and includes several that are now playing in front of a global audience at Euro 2016 in Gylfi Sigurdsson and Hal Robson-Kanu. Others such as Alex Pearce, Jordan Obita, Alex McCarthy, Jem Karacan and countless others have also all come through Reading's youth system under Dolan's watch.
The former Exeter boss was even able to win a few pieces of silverware during his time with the Academy, with highlights including promotion to the top tier of U21 football, an FA Youth Cup semi-final appearance and winning the Premier League U21 trophy in 2014. He would also step into the manager's chair for one game in 2013 after Brian McDermott's sacking.
Sadly Dolan would go on to be diagnosed with cancer for a second time in August last year, undergoing an operation to remove a tumour from his bladder and taking time away from football as a result. Reading fans and the world of football rallied around to support Dolan, with the #21forDolan campaign generating a wave of good wishes for Eamonn but unfortunately he couldn't quite win the battle this time around.
He rarely courted publicity and never sought the limelight but there's no doubt Dolan's massive impact on Reading Football Club and nobody should underestimate the overwhelmingly positive legacy he leaves behind. All we can say is thank you Eamonn, and rest in peace.