THE Southwest Regional Final of the Danone Cup, an International tournament for Under 12s took place in Rathkeale last weekend.
Twelve teams were looking to win the section in order to qualify for the National Final and battle for a place at the World Finals in Poland. Defending Champions Killarney Celtic, who just lost the National Final by a goal last year, St Brendans Park and Kingdom Boys, who received a late entry were the three Kerry sides in action.
Celtic were first into action against Cappamore and got off to the worst possible start, going 1-0 behind from the penalty spot after two minutes. However, Lee Downing equalised and Ryan Kelliher put Celtic ahead and they looked like they were going to get their day off to a winning start. However, in the last minute another ball over the top wasn't dealt with and Cappamore equalised. Penalties were taken â?“ to be banked in case of sides finishing level â?“ but Celtic lost.
Kingdom Boys got their day underway as they faced Celtic while at the same time The Park were meeting Nenagh in the second round of matches. Kingdom Boys and Killarney Celtic couldn't be separated, drawing 0-0, but this time Celtic won on sudden death spot kicks. The point gained by Kingdom Boys would prove vital.
Nenagh defeated The Park 1-0 and as this was their second win, having already defeated Abbeyfeale they were through as Group 1 winners. They would face Herbertstown in their last four game. Kingdom Boys went into their last Group game against Cappanore knowing that a win would see them into the semi finals and knock both of their group rivals out and the Tralee boys dually got the win thanks to a goal from Kevin Williams to set up a semi final against Avenue United who won Group 2.
After two exciting semi finals it was Kingdom Boys and Nenagh who would face each other in the decider. Kingdom Boys had goals from John Carmody and Kevin Williams in a 2-0 win over the Clare side.
The final was always going to be a tight affair, with Nenagh slight favourites, and so it proved. Sean Duggan was impressive in the Kingdom Boys goal and made a good save to keep the game scoreless. However, the Tipperary boys were a little stronger physically and took the lead in the eight minute (games are played over two 10 minute periods) when a corner was partially cleared and the Nenagh played smacked the ball through a group of players.
Into the second period and Kingdom Boys up the ante and pushed on looking for the equaliser. John Carmody, Dillon Robinson and David Rodgers all went close but they ran out of time. Kingdom Boys will be a little disappointed in not going all the way to Dublin but can look back with pride in the way they represented the League in reaching the regional final.
The Kingdom Boys squad on duty on the day was: Sean Duggan, Donal Dillane, Tadgh Brick, Thomas Dywer, Ben Falvey, David Rodgers, Barry Lyons, David O'connor, Mikey Kelliher, Cathal Dunne, Sean Foley, John Carmody, Kevin Williams and Dillon Robinson.