THE West Cork Schoolboys Emerging Talent Programme U13s concluded a positive four days at the 2017 Galway Cup with victory over the North Eastern Counties.Â
âPlaying so many games in such a short period of time at the Galway Cup will stand to the players and give them the best possible preparation ahead of next year's (U14) Kennedy Cup,' commented West Cork Coach Johnny Lawless.
âAs far as tournament football goes, taking part in this year's Galway Cup was an essential experience for the lads. Although we didn't win many games, we were competitive in each and every match and that's hugely encouraging for next year and beyond.
âBeing away from their home environment for a week, getting to know and becoming friends with their fellow squad members and competing every day was also an important reason for travelling to Galway. It is vital for the playerÃs progression to have gone through that kind of bonding experience and what it is like competing at elite schoolboys' tournament football.'
The WCSL's Galway Cup campaign began with two tough games on the opening day of the tournament. A highly-rated Donegal Schoolboys side were first up and underlined their quality with a dominant first half display, scoring twice without reply as their opponents struggled to settle.Â
A third goal early in the second period ended the tie as a contest. but Johnny Lawless and Lorne Edmeade's team kept battling right up until the final whistle before another Donegal effort secured a deserved 4-0 triumph.
West Cork had little time to dwell on that loss as a second fixture against North Tipperary took place later that same evening. Conceding two goals in three minutes, the WCSL pulled one back courtesy of a stunning Finian Hogan (Bunratty United) strike before North Tipp restored their two-goal advantage. A second Hogan goal made it 3-2 but despite a terrific display and a game West Cork could have won, their opponents held out for a narrow victory.Â
Day Two of the tournament saw the WCSL facing off against Roscommon Lions. All the hard work put in the previous day was rewarded with a narrow 1-0 victory thanks to John O'Donovan's (Ardfield) solitary strike five minutes from full time.Â
The following day, West Cork entered their final group match and toughest test to date against a highly-rated Sligo-Leitrim outfit who would go on to enjoy a successful Galway Cup campaign, losing on penalties to Colorado Rapids in the 2004 Elite Cup final.Â
Once again, West Cork played superbly against their much-fancied opponents with Bantry Bay Rovers' Eoghan O'Sullivan netting from a free kick after Sligo-Leitrim had built an early 2-0 lead. In horrendous weather, and chasing the game, the WCSL were caught out by the concession of a late third goal, but could take heart from one of their best performances of the tournament against a well-regarded side.
That result meant Johnny Lawless and Lorne Edmeade's squad were drawn to play Mayo in a 2004 Elite Group 13th place play-off semi-final. A cracking five-goal thriller ensued with Riverside Athletic's Olan Corcoran cancelling out the Connacht side's opener.Â
Mayo re-took the lead but once again West Cork dug deep and made it 2-2 shortly before the break courtesy of an Eoghan O'Sullivan goal. Alas, Mayo converted a penalty three minutes from the end to snatch victory and set up West Cork's final outing against the North Eastern Counties on the last day of the tournament.
Admirably, after such a tiring week and playing in sometimes awful weather conditions, West Cork ensured only their second ever trip to the Galway Cup would end in victory thanks to a 2-1 triumph. Riverside AthleticsÃ William Hennigan broke the deadlock but NEC levelled to leave the sides tied at the interval. It took a superb John OÃDonovan (Ardfield) winner to secure West CorkÃs win and end a memorable week up in Galway on a positive note.
2017 West Cork Schoolboys League Galway Cup squad: Aaron Mannix (Dunmanway Town), Cian Jacob (Lyre Rovers), CiarÃ¡n O'Regan (Drinagh Rangers), Conor Twomey (Ardfield), Darragh O'Reilly (Bunratty United), Eoghan O'Sullivan (Bantry Bay Rovers), Evan Maguire (Dunmanway Town), Finian Hogan (Bunratty United), Jamie O'Driscoll (Skibbereen), Jason McCarthy (Sullane), John O'Donovan (Ardfield), Joe Bailey (Lyre Rovers), Lorcan O'Brien (Bunratty United), Michael O'Driscoll (Bunratty United), Oisin O'Sullivan (Lyre Rovers), Olan Corcoran (Riverside Athletic), Paddy Cronin (Bantry Bay Rovers), Rory Phayer (Lyre Rovers), TomÃ¡s Ã DonabhÃ¡in (Lyre Rovers) and William Hennigan (Riverside Athletic).