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West Cork Academy ready for knockout football

March 3rd, 2024 10:00 AM

By Ger McCarthy

The West Cork Academy U13 schoolboys squad that will face Limerick District in the U13 Schoolboys National Inter-League Trophy quarter-finals.

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THE West Cork Academy’s U12, U13 and U15 representative squads face tough tests in the knockout stages of the 2024 SFAI National Schoolboys Inter-League competitions.

While the U15 age-grade has one round of group matches still to complete, the path to SFAI glory has been laid out with the pre-quarter-finals, quarter-finals and semi-finals draws for all age-groups now in place.

All national deciders are pencilled in for completion by the end of May. Before that, there are some cracking ties to look forward to, not least at U12 level. Shane Hough’s West Cork Academy side has been handed a home tie in the last eight of the SFAI U12 Schoolboys Trophy. North Tipperary B will visit West Cork for a showdown in which the winners will earn a home semi-final against either Mayo of the North District Schoolboys League.

Hough’s Academy side found the going tough during a difficult group phase despite putting up impressive efforts against Cork United, North Tipperary A and Limerick County Whites. A home draw means West Cork has nothing to lose against a North Tipp B outfit that lost to Kerry, Limerick County Reds and Cork Athletic in the provincial stage.

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There was good news for the West Cork Academy U13 schoolboys when they received a bye into the quarter-finals of this year’s SFAI U13 Schoolboys National Inter-League Trophy.

Lorne Edmead’s side finished fourth behind Limerick Desmond, Waterford, Kerry and Limerick District in Group F of this season’s round-robin phase.

Jack Allen, Brehon O’Mahony, Eoghan Foley, Michael Ryan and Dara Ryan were amongst the academy’s standout performers in last weekend’s 4-1 loss away to Waterford. Prior to that, West Cork were unfortunate to lose 3-2 away to Kerry and at home to a highly-regarded Limerick Desmond (7-2) before drawing 2-2 with Limerick District; West Cork edged a subsequent penalty shootout in that final group outing.

Intriguingly, Limerick District (away) will once again be West Cork’s opponents in the last eight of the SFAI U13 National Trophy. Whoever emerges will host one of Wicklow, Sligo-Leitrim or Carlow in the competition’s penultimate round.

West Cork Academy U13 schoolboys: Nicholas O’Sullivan (Clonakilty AFC), Niall Jennings (Riverside Athletic), Tadgh O’Farrell (Togher Celtic), Brehon O’Mahony (Ardfield FC), Micheal Ryan (Lyre Rovers), Hugh McCarthy (Dunmanway Town), Rory Ecklof (Kilmichael Rovers), Fiachra Garrett (Skibbereen AFC), Jack Allen (Castlelack), Eoghan Holland (Dunmanway Town), Cole O’Tuama (Sullane), Callum Craig (Castlelack), Lovro Kordic (Clonakilty AFC), Eoghan Foley (Dunmanway Town), Sam Mullany (Kilgoban Celtic), Dara Ryan (Lyre Rovers), Darragh O’Sullivan (Beara United), Cillian Kingston (Drinagh Rangers).

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Fresh off their recent mid-term trip to the UK, the West Cork Academy U15 schoolboys have one remaining group match to negotiate before entering the knockout stages of this season’s SFAI National Inter-League.

Don Hurley and JJ Hurley’s side currently lie second in Group D. The Cork Schoolboys League leads the way on nine points thanks to a maximum return from their three fixtures. West Cork are tied for joint-second place alongside Kerry on six points apiece.

A Cork versus West Cork derby is scheduled for March 9th/10th with Kerry travelling to North Tipperary on the same weekend. Once those final round of Group D games are complete, each participating league will know the U15 knockout competition they will progress to.

West Cork will clinch top spot if they cause a surprise and overcome Cork in their final group match. That scenario would see Don Hurley and JJ Hurley’s side travelling to the winner of South Belfast and Donegal in the cup semi-finals.

A runners-up Group D berth would secure West Cork Academy a home semi-final in the SFAI U15 Schoolboys Bowl competition. That encounter would be against the losers of South Belfast and Donegal’s upcoming Group A clash.

Finishing third in Group D would see West Cork making the long trip to Inishowen Boys in the last four of the SFAI U15 Schoolboys Shield.

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