Sunday 25 February 2018

A triumph for Swords on and off the pitch

The Swords Celtic Under-11s who won their own tournament
The Swords Celtic Under-11s who won their own tournament

PJ Murray

THE Fingal Cup tournament organised by Swords Celtic for Under-11 sides took place on Saturday and proved to be a resounding success.

Swords Celtic Under-11s manager Joe Gannon organises the competition as a fundraiser for his side for their bi-annual trip and last year they were able to travel to Denmark to compete in the Denmark Cup.

This time the Swords tournament doubled in size, from eight competing teams to 16, and yet it was the host club themselves who triumphed after a hard-fought day's football.

The games were contested on a 10-minute a side basis, with a plate competition for those who finished third in the group stages. NDSL referees officiated at the matches and Joe Gannon had high praise for an up and coming official, Kevin Cassin, who he describes as a super ref.

Gannon said that the teams who are invited are all of a similar standard to add to the level of enjoyment, and looking at the scores overall there were a lot of draws and slender victories.

Having topped their group, Swords beat WFTA in the second-round stage before a hard-fought 1-0 win over Corduff in the semis. They faced Dunshlaughlin in the final and again eked out a 1-0 victory.

It wasn't exactly a revenge mission, but Dunshlaughlin had beaten Swords earlier this season in the NDSL P & A Cup, so Gannon said it was nice for the kids to get one over on them.

Rush Athletic won the plate final. They beat Howth Celtic 2-0 in the title decider.

Swords are sponsored by McDonalds who had promised to fill the trophy with ice-cream for the lads every time they won some silverware.

The Under-11s finished the 2013/14 season in mid-table in the NDSL Premier Division and Gannon spoke highly about the assistance he receives from Drogheda United's Daire Doyle who helps with training and developing the team.

"Daire played in England for over nine years and he's now in the League of Ireland. For someone like him to come in and give the kids some one-on-one time is huge. Most clubs would have to pay for something like that.

'He does football literally seven days a week; he trains with Drogheda three nights a week and plays once a week, and then he trains with us twice a week and has a game every Saturday, so his commitment level is huge and he is fantastic with the kids,' added Glennon.

In return for his commitment, Doyle - as a Drogheda player - is sponsored by Swords U-11s.

The destination for next year's trip for the Under-11s has yet to be decided, but Gannon says they could end up anywhere.

'It could be Spain, Sweden, England. The world's largest schoolboy tournament is scheduled for next season in Gothenburg, so that's something we may look towards.'

With the continued success of the tournament, Gannon hopes to make it an annual event.

'Any time it's finished the managers always say that they hope we are doing it next year.

'If a tournament is run well and you're giving out a decent trophy and medals then people will keep coming back and that's what I do. The weather also plays a part and we had a fantastic day on Saturday.'

Fingal Independent

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