BY GER McCARTHY
THE West Cork Schoolboys U13 Inter-League won the 2019 Blackpool Cup following a terrific showing at the English tournament over the Easter weekend.
Shane Hurley’s young side performed heroically at the multi-national tournament and produced some terrific football before annexing the Blackpool Cup trophy.
It was a fitting reward for a talented bunch of players who were supported by a loyal band of parents and fans as well as the WCSL’s DJ Curtin and David Hall.
Winning a prestigious trophy on foreign soil at the expense of fellow Irish, Scottish, Northern Irish and Dutch opponents underlines the quality of coaches and players continuing to emerge from the West Cork region.
‘I cannot put into words how happy I am for this group of boys,’ West Cork U13 coach Shane Hurley said.
‘I’ve trained this squad for the best part of three years. They travelled away from home to take part in a very difficult tournament and in sweltering hot conditions. Winning the cup is fantastic but what came through was the depth of our squad and quality we have off the bench.
‘In Blackpool, we were able to rotate our players and never played the same line-up two games in a row. That shows the quality of player we have and the way they dealt with a challenging schedule, difficult and sometimes rough opponents. I’m proud of every single one of the lads.’
Before a ball was kicked, the WCSL U13 squad had time to attend a Preston North End and Ipswich Town Championship encounter and the opportunity to meet up with former Cork City striker and current Republic of Ireland international Sean Maguire.
First up on the opening day was a meeting with Dutch outfit RKVV Wilhelmina. Despite the sweltering temperatures, West Cork tore into their opponents from the opening whistle and blitzed the Dutch side for four goals in 18 minutes.
Clonakilty AFC’s Prince Iyallah broke the deadlock before Luke Shorten netted a brace and Tim Cullinane made it 4-0. Two more strikes (including one from Eli Reynolds) during the second period secured a 6-0 triumph to get Hurley’s side off to the best possible start.
Shortly after (there were very short breaks between WCSL’s games), West Cork faced one of the tournament favourites, Dungannon FC from Northern Ireland. Another superb display saw the WCSL run out 2-1 winners thanks to Dara Sheedy and Luke Shorten efforts.
A third consecutive game saw a tiring West Cork lose 2-0 to the Midlands Schoolboys League but finish the opening day two points clear of the chasing pack at the top of Group 2.
Day Two got off to a productive start with a 2-0 defeat of Scottish side Burnbank FC. Tom O’Connor and Luke Shorten’s goals secured top spot and a place in the Blackpool Cup semi-finals. West Cork’s opponents were the Roscommon Schoolboys League and Dara Sheedy’s solitary strike was enough to earn the WCSL a place in the decider.And so to the Blackpool Cup final and a meeting with Scottish outfit Linwood. Another Dara Sheedy goal saw West Cork draw 1-1 against rough and uncompromising opponents. The WCSL held their nerve and won a penalty shootout to become 2019 Blackpool Cup winners.