BY KIERAN McCARTHY
THE West Cork Schoolboys League’s latest export is determined to make an impact with Cork City U17s this season.
Schull’s Ronan Hurley, in his second season with City, is quickly making a name for himself and he understands how important it is that he kicks on again this season following an impressive debut campaign last year.
‘Last year helped me settle in and get used to it, so this year I want to move on and use that experience to get better,’ the 16-year-old Schull Community College Transition Year student explained.
‘I was happy with how it went last season. I was in good form but then I fractured a metatarsal which set me back a few weeks. I hit some good form again when I came back so it went well overall.
‘As a team we won our section, which was important, but we lost the semi-final (3-5) to eventual winners, Shamrock Rovers, after extra-time. That was disappointing. We are hoping to go one step further this year and give the league and cup a good go. We have that first season together under our belts so we know each other and there is a good bond there.’
Cork City U17s kicked off SSE Airticity League U17 National League Southern Elite Division with a thumping 6-0 win away to Kerry last weekend, and their next game is home to Mervue United on April 3rd, as the new league campaign stretches its legs.
For former Bunratty United schoolboys’ defender Hurley, each game offers a chance for him to learn – and he’s eager to improve.
He left Bunratty to join Lakewood Athletic in the Cork Schoolboys League because he wanted to challenge himself against the best players in the county. After one season there, at U16 level, he impressed at Cork City trials, and then made the switch.
Hurley was also called up to the Republic of Ireland U17 home-based squad so, step by step, he’s moving in the right direction, following in the footsteps of other former West Cork Schoolboys League starlets, like current Cork City striker Connor Ellis, a former West Cork Youth Sports Star of the Year.
‘That was a great experience with Ireland, training and playing in Dublin. Playing at the higher standard makes it more challenging and more enjoyable. When you get the taste of it, you want it more and more, so hopefully I will get back there again,’ explained Ronan, son of Vincent and Susan, and the youngest brother to Cian and Fionn, who both play with Bunratty.
He feels that Cork City is the best place for him to learn and improve, especially as his role as a left-back is evolving all the time. He started out as a centre back in his early days with Bunratty, but, through his Kennedy Cup experience and the Emerging Talent Programme, he has moved out to the left.
‘I started off as a defensive left-back who didn’t get forward too much, but the modern-day full-back attacks a lot, overlaps and is an important part of the attack so I’m learning and getting better all the time. Being a former centre back I was very defensive, but I have to change my style now and get forward a bit more,’ Hurley said, determined to follow in the trendsetting footsteps of talented West Cork soccer players, such as Cork City striker Connor Ellis – the recently named FAI Schools’ International Player of the Year.