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West Cork Academy U15s face Leeds United and Preston

February 15th, 2024 11:00 AM

By Ger McCarthy

West Cork Academy U15s face Leeds United and Preston Image
Some of the 2024 West Cork Academy U15 schoolboys squad that is currently competing in the SFAI National Inter-League and also taking part in a mid-term trip to the UK.

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LEEDS United and Preston North End provided quality opposition for the West Cork Academy U15 Schoolboys during their mid-term trip to the UK. 

The West Cork Academy returned to Great Britain this past week. Last year’s memorable trip included a series of high-profile friendlies against Morecambe, Burnley, Liverpool’s Knowsley Boys and Wigan Athletic's academy teams. 

The 2024 West Cork Academy U15 schoolboys squad – under the tutelage of Don Hurley, JJ Hurley, David Hall, Tadgh Curtin and Ken Kingston – were eager to make their mark in 2024.

This particular group enjoyed an historic week at last year’s SFAI Kennedy Cup when they finished third, the league’s best-ever finish in the competition. Earlier this week, the region’s U15 academy side faced English Championship clubs Leeds United and Preston North End’s highly-respected academy teams as part of a busy itinerary.

The Southern Star caught up with West Cork Academy coach Don Hurley prior to the U15 squad’s cross-channel visit and asked what he and the travelling party were hoping to get out of the trip.

‘I suppose more than anything this squad will be just looking to build on finishing third in last year’s SFAI Kennedy Cup,’ Hurley said. 

‘The week is all about getting our academy players experience of competing at a higher level and challenging them. It’s also the first time since the Kennedy Cup that we have a number of days to work together as a group once again.

‘This will be a real thrill for the players going up against the likes of Preston North End and Leeds. Not just for the players, it’s also an exciting trip from a coach’s point of view as well. We have an outstanding squad but this is a much different challenge than they are normally used to. Everyone is looking forward to it.’

Whatever about the thrill of facing the famous Leeds United jersey, the week in the UK also represents a serious step up in quality of opposition.

The experience of facing highly-regarded academy opponents will represent another important step in each of the participating West Cork players’ personal development. 

‘It’s very hard to predict how the week will go,’ Hurley admitted. 

‘All I know is that we have a talented bunch of lads that work hard for each other. They will give it their best shot and that’s all you can ask.’

Once the mid-term UK trip is completed, there is plenty for the West Cork Academy U15 schoolboys to look forward to. 

‘Our biggest aim for next week is to prepare ourselves for playing the Cork Schoolboys League at home in the last round of the SFAI Inter-league competition,’ Hurley added. 

‘We have already won two Inter-League group games against Limerick County and North Tipperary. We were also unlucky to lose to Kerry (away) so we need to beat Cork to have a chance of finishing top of our group. That game is due to be played in early March so the trip to the UK is ideal preparation for us.’

West Cork Academy U15 Schoolboys: Daire Hurley (Drinagh Rangers), Matthew Buttimer (Lyre Rovers), Luke Holland (Dunmanway Town), Liam Ryan (Lyre Rovers), Padraig O’Sullivan (Kilgoban Celtic), Aodan Murphy (Drinagh Rangers), Kevin Duffy (Ardfield), Joe O’Donovan (Drinagh Rangers), Christos Delis (Ardfield), Sean Platt (Ardfield), Conrad Murphy (Clonakilty AFC), Art O’Leary (Kilgoban Celtic), Tom Whooley (Ardfield), Alex Bramoulle (Dunmanway Town), Milo Kinsella (Drinagh Rangers), Joe Twomey (Lyre Rovers), Euan Knowles (Lyre Rovers), Conor Murphy (Riverside Athletic), Paddy O’Brien (Dunmanway Town), Paddy Haughney (Clonakilty AFC), Levi Bosma (Togher Celtic), Rory Curtin (Castlelack AFC). Academy coaches: Don Hurley, JJ Hurley, David Hall, Tadgh Curtin, Ken Kingston.


The West Cork Academy U16 schoolboys registered a superb SFAI National Inter-League Shield quarter-final victory away to Mayo last weekend. Leading 6-1 and seemingly on their way to a straightforward win, West Cork conceded three injury-time goals before emerging 6-4 winners. 

Kilmichael Rovers’ Tim Sweeney netted a superb hat-trick in his side’s win. Alex Bramoulle, James Maguire and Conor Vassallo also got their names on the West Cork scoresheet in a terrific all-round team performance. David Hall’s side’s reward is a place in the last four of the SFAI National Inter-League Shield against Waterford. 

West Cork Academy U16 Schoolboys: Rory Curtin, Jack Browne, Ronan Hayes, Luke Holland, Ryan O’Boy, Conor Vassallo, Shane Hallihan, Sean Platt, Sam Logan, Finn O’Mahony, Tim Sweeney, Donnacha Hennigan, Alex Bramoulle, Ronan Collins, James Maguire, Padraig Hegarty, Rory O’Neill, Joe McCarthy.

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