Kerry ready to take on the big leagues in the Kennedy Cup
Mike Rice looks ahead to Kerry’s Kennedy Cup campaign and spoke to some of the people involved
It's that time of the year again and young aspiring soccer players from around the county will be taking centre stage next week as they represent the county in the annual Kennedy Cup competition.
The extravaganza of football starts in the University of Limerick campus on Monday next June 11 and runs until Friday, June 15.
The national tournament comprises of each of the 32 affiliated leagues entering a squad of twenty 14-year old players to compete over an entire week with additional competitions for those teams which do not progress to the latter stages of the Kennedy Cup itself.
The tournament will be played in eight adjoining pitches and will see budding young soccer players from every county getting the chance to show their prowess at the beautiful game.
Cross-channel scouts are often in attendance vetting players of exceptional talent and it is a great window of opportunity for the 14-year olds to exhibit their skills and grab the attention of observers.
Kerry won the national competition for the very first time three years ago under manager Brendan Hogan and members of that team are now playing with Kerry in the SSE Airtricity U-17 league.
Kerry won the Shield last year but of course winning the cup is the main aim of everyone
The competition is historically the breeding ground for all future Irish underage and senior International players. Roy Keane captained Cork to success in 1984, Damian Duff and Ian Harte were members of the successful DDSL teams while more recently John O'Shea was a member of the Waterford squad that won in 1995.
The Kerry Schoolboys League hosted a media night at The Rose Hotel, one of the team sponsors, and the squad were decked out in their new strip with parents present to join in the excitement of it all.
Management and squad
The manager of the team this year is Joe O'Reilly and his coaches are Jimmy Clancy and Robert Sibanda, and the head of delegation is Thomas Kelly. The team physio is John Kerley.
Six clubs are represented in this year's squad: St Brendan's Park, Killorglin, Listowel Celtic, Killarney Athletic, Tralee Dynamos and Fenit. Amazingly one of the biggest clubs in the county Killarney Celtic don't have a representative in the 20-strong squad.
The squad is Colin Doody, Sean O'Connor, Kieran O'Connor, Cianan Cooney, Conor Kerins, Sean Hill, Sean O'Connell, Messiah Chirwa, Liam Carmody (The Park)
Tom Whittleton, Conor Spillane, Jason O'Connor, Eoghan Hassett (Killorglin)
Jack Moloney, Robert Stack, Adam Segal (Listowel Celtic)
Mathew Horgan, Roco Rudjucan (Killarney Athletic)
Eddie McCarthy, Fenit, Andy Rogers Tralee Dynamos
Andy Rogers captains the team with Tom Whittleton the nominated vice-captain.