Exclusive: Frustrated Kevin's ponder LOI entry after U-17 rejection
Published 11/09/2015 | 02:30
Top Dublin schoolboy club St Kevin's Boys are exploring the possibility of entering a senior team in the League of Ireland as a response to being refused entry into the new national U-17 league.
St Kevin's wrote to the FAI last month to ask them for details of the criteria for membership to the First Division and are believed to be waiting for a response.
The northside outfit, which produced up-and-coming Irish internationals Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick, were deeply frustrated when they were denied a place in the U-17 League of Ireland.
After going through the process of meeting the FAI and applying for a spot, they were told they missed out because there were too many Dublin clubs. Their rivals Belvedere were also turned down.
The FAI want the leading schoolboy nurseries to form a partnership with SSE Airtricity League sides, a route that St Kevin's are unwilling to go down.
Effectively, the issue boils down to 'training compensation' for producing young players, income that is essential for the leading schoolboy forces to continue investing in youth - an area in which League of Ireland clubs have lagged behind.
The schoolboy operations fear that they will lose players earlier because of the U-17 league and are conscious that there are plans in the pipeline to introduce an U-15 equivalent - with no guarantee they will be allocated a place.
If a youngster moves across the water, clubs responsible for their training and education are entitled to compensation which is calculated by adding up the years the individual spent on their books.
The percentage of that fee increases once a player is with them past his 16th birthday.
All the League of Ireland clubs in Dublin have a team in the U-17 competition, so taking a place in the First Division would give Kevin's entry to that league and effectively ensure they will be included in any U-15 plan.
FAI High Performance director Ruud Dokter has spoken of the need for a pathway from schoolboy football all the way up to adult level. Eyebrows were raised when Cabinteely took up the vacant spot in the First Division for this season, but they tick the box as their busy underage structure is now linked with a senior set-up.
St Kevin's have noted that example. They already comply with the pathway model as they have two senior teams in the AUL.
A step up to run a side in the League of Ireland would be costly but key figures feel it's worth considering because of the changes in the underage climate. They will wait for an FAI response before deciding whether to press ahead.