Famous Dublin schoolboy club St Kevin's Boys could be invited into the inaugural U-15 national league to be unveiled by the Football Association of Ireland next week.
It was expected the governing body would replicate their U-17 league policy from 2015 by excluding the established Dublin underage clubs in favour of the League of Ireland fraternity, but the indications are that Kevin's have broken the mould.
Chief executive John Delaney, Competitions Director Fran Gavin and High Performance Director Ruud Dokter had been extremely vocal in urging schoolboy clubs to collaborate with senior outfits in applying for the maiden intake, which kicks off in August.
It was against this backdrop that the likes of Belvedere, Crumlin United and Cherry Orchard joined forces with St Patrick's Athletic, while St Joseph's Boys copper-fastened their accord with Bray Wanderers.
St Kevin's, former club of Liam Brady and current internationals Jeff Hendrick and Robbie Brady, were initially reluctant to sacrifice their identity as part of any merger.
Still, fearful their very survival was under threat, they entered talks with a number of different clubs and claim they were unsuccessful despite their best efforts. Their last option of a partnership, alongside Shelbourne, perished in the last week when the Reds opted to go it alone into the new structure.
"We have done everything possible to link up with a League of Ireland club, but it just hasn't been possible," said Brendan Bermingham, secretary of Kevin's underage section.
"With the encouragement of the FAI, we even went as far to Drogheda United and couldn't reach a deal. If St Kevin's are part of the new league, we'll be under our own name. Our club have met all the criteria. The decision is down to the FAI and we'll be ready to participate."
How League of Ireland clubs, or fellow schoolboy outfits, react to a successful application by St Kevin's remains to be seen. The likes of Shamrock Rovers, with U-15 boss Damien Duff centrally involved, have been on a heavy recruitment drive into a market traditionally dominated by St Kevin's.
Last night, there was speculation that a faction of disgruntled underage clubs dissuaded from applying for the new venture were considering a legal challenge. Some applicants didn't even receive an acknowledgement to their expressions of interest.
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