THE West Cork Schoolboys U13 Inter-League squad made history by claiming the region’s first-ever Subway SFAI trophy in Ennis.
An Emerging Talent Programme that has consistently produced quality footballers from across the entire West Cork region received a major boost following Danny McQueen’s (Drinagh Rangers) young side’s historic triumph.
Travelling to Ennis last Sunday afternoon, the West Cork U13’s faced a Clare league on their home ground with the Subway SFAI U13 Munster Plate on offer for the winners. Having missed out on a place in the Munster semi-finals following a penalty shootout loss to Waterford, the WCSL bounced back in style by qualifying for the Munster Plate decider courtesy of victories over Limerick County (3-1) and South Tipperary (5-1).
Having played most of their campaign on astro-turf, West Cork took time to settle on Clare’s grass pitch and with the aid of a strong wind in the opening half. Dominating possession and territory, the WCSL took the game to their opponents and created numerous chances including an Edward Myers effort that struck the crossbar.
The visitors made the breakthrough following a succession of missed chances halfway through the opening half. Tom McQueen sent a free-kick into the Clare penalty area where Sam Pickering’s header was brilliantly parried by the host’s goalkeeper. Ben O’Sullivan pounced on the rebound however and made no mistake to edge the WCSL in front.
West Cork improved in the second period by keeping the ball on the ground in the face of a strengthening wind. Ben O’Sullivan’s pace continued to cause Clare’s defence problems and the young striker was brought down in the penalty area presenting his side with a golden opportunity to double their advantage. Drinagh’s Tom McQueen took responsibility for the kick and made it 2-0 with a confident finish.
It was fitting that Ben O’Sullivan scored West Cork’s third and match-clinching goal, embarking on a 40-yard run that took the Bay Rovers dynamo past four defenders before finding the net to secure his region’s historic triumph.
Danny McQueen’s side have become the first-ever West Cork Inter-League team to lift an SFAI trophy but must come back down to earth as quickly as possible ahead of an All-Ireland Plate semi-final at home to either Donegal or Cavan/Monaghan at the beginning of May.
Also last weekend, West Cork’s U12 Inter-League came agonisingly close to reaching a Subway SFAI Munster U12 Plate final when Shane Hurley’s side lost 1-0 away to West Waterford East Cork in Lismore, Waterford. Despite the narrow defeat, reaching a provincial semi-final represents a terrific achievement and further underlines soccer’s growth in the West Cork region.
The West Cork Schoolboys U13 Inter-League squad v Clare was as follows: Adam O’Regan (Ardfield), Mikey Orpen (Beara United), Callum McElhinney (Bantry Bay Rovers), Dan Andrews (Bantry Bay Rovers), Conor O’Sullivan (Lyre Rovers), Sam Pickering (Leeside), Tom McQueen (Drinagh Rangers), Tom Ryan-Purcell (Bunratty United), Edward Myers (Sullane), Tommy O’Sullivan (Bantry Bay Rovers, captain), Ben O’Sullivan (Bantry Bay Rovers), Colm Hayes (Ardfield), Darragh Gough (Ardfield), Fabian Wadolowski (Bantry Bay Rovers), Evan Fitzpatrick (Drinagh Rangers), Peter Craig (Castlelack), Sam Coffey (Ardfield), Jack McSweeney (Drinagh Rangers), James O’Donovan (Ardfield) and Brexio Carlton (Beara United).