Drogheda players to live Memphis dream
A number of local soccer players will depart for Memphis shortly for eight days of intense football
Memphis is on the Mississippi River in southwest Tennessee, famous for many things, not least blues, soul and rock 'n' roll.
Elvis Presley, B.B. King and Johnny Cash recorded albums at the legendary Sun Studio, and Presley's Graceland mansion is a popular attraction.
But for a squad of young soccer players, Memphis will hold dreams of a different kind.
For the past two years and more, players have gathered at EMU's ground on the Ministown Road and trained their socks off, under the guidance of head coach Mark Costigan.
Now they are almost set to board the plane and depart for the USA - intent on seeing off the cream of talent in their age group in an international tournament.
The John Talley Showcase and Shoot out takes place in mid March at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex, a 136 acre venue with 16 floodlit pitches.
They'll face teams such as Springfield Academy and the Croatian Eagles, South Mississippi and the Portsmouth Youth Academy.
The tournament is also seen as a showcase for college coaches and the players have been preparing under the Soccer Scholar Drogheda banner.
The squad features: Hugh Murphy, goalkeeper from Ardee Celtic under 17s, Graeme Curley from Balbriggan, Drogheda Town stars Ryan Connolly, plus Sevastian Beslic and Christian Connolly , members of last year's NDSL winning Drogheda Town under 16 side, Leo Tang, from Balbriggan and who has already made his senior debut with Drogheda United and Seosamh Sherrin from Cavan/Monaghan.
Emmanuel Fakoyede is also from Balbriggan and Brian Cabraley plays with Athlone Town in the League of Ireland. Cian Quinn is a centre half with Drogheda United.
For Mark Costigan, to be Head Coach bringing a team to a major American tournament is a huge honour.
While still involved heavily with the Drogheda ETP and as Head of football for the last six years, he has seen a lot of talent come through the Drogheda league but as soon as they get to the Kennedy Cup, a lot of players move on ,change club ,maybe get their break but a huge majority fall away because there's not much else for them at a competitive level. They also miss being part of an elite group of lads.
'This is were Soccer scholar USA comes in,' he states.
'Jim Conroy runs the programme and along with his son Ryan who is based in the UK they have vast experience in developing this more and more every year.
'This year I've brought in John Wallace of Drogheda Marsh Crescent as my number two. John is very dedicated to the game, actively involved coaching with ourselves and DMC as well as a committee member at his club.' John says he's delighted to be given the opportunity to be involved in the programme and is really looking forward to the tournament in Memphis .
'At the moment we have over 25 players registered in our junior academy ,these are made up of under 12-14 ETP players ,DDSL players and NDSL players all living in Drogheda who come together every second Sunday to train and play. We have a trip to Portsmouth lined up for these guys and girl after the summer,' Mark states.
'We also have our Memphis academy squad made up of 15 players ranging from 14-17 years old. These lads train and play with our Memphis squad every week .
'We have had a lot of these lads on view to our visiting scouts before Christmas and all were very impressive.
Players travel from Balbriggan, Tallaght and Cavan for training while Cian Quinn ,Christian Connolly , Sevastian Beslic ,Hugh Murphy and Ryan Connolly are all from Drogheda and are past players from the ETP and Kennedy cup squads
'I worked with Cian four years ago at the Kennedy Cup and he was involved with the ETP for 3 years .
'Christian , Hugh and Sev were all part of my original ETP squad under 12s and we worked together right through to Kennedy Cup . Sev was part of a squad I took to Portsmouth last year.
'Last, but by no means least, our youngest squad member Ryan Connolly. Ryan has been involved at ETP from under 12s right up to last years Kennedy Cup squad.
'This is a great opportunity for these lads to represent Drogheda and Ireland in a massive tournament stateside .
The group jet out to Memphis on March 19 for eight days
'I have to give EMU thanks for their great facilities in the build up to this event,' Mark added.