Glimmer of hope for Cork U14 soccer players competing in the Kennedy Cup

Glimmer of hope for Cork U14 soccer players competing in the Kennedy Cup
Then Cork City manager Stephen Bermingham before the UEFA Youth League match against HJK Helsinki in 2016. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

HAVING received the disappointing news recently that this year’s Kennedy Cup in Limerick had been cancelled, the Cork players like all youngsters preparing for the competition across Ireland were understandably disheartened.

But there is a renewed hope that the tournament may indeed take place at a later date this year and a surprise call from a current Republic of Ireland international has boosted the mood among the current CSL Kennedy Cup squad.

Stephen Bermingham’s squad was getting ready for the tournament until the SFAI released a statement that effectively ended any chance of the tournament taking place.

“With the uncertainty of the health situation and its restrictions, it was agreed to clarify the situation and cancel the staging of the 2020 Kennedy Cup tournament, it was also agreed that the SFAI Skechers Cups and Subway competitions levels, which have not been completed up to now, will not be completed.”

However, John Earley has now opened the door to the possibility of the tournament taking place should an avenue allow for it to happen in a safe manner.

The SFAI’s statement included the following news.

“Should the current phases of lifting of restrictions continue in a positive manner, we are also hopeful of the possibility of a window of opportunity opening that might facilitate a rescheduling to ensure that this great competition can be completed.”

So, for the players there seems to be some light at the end of a tunnel that appeared to be shut just days before and the mood in the Cork camp took another boost when the group received a surprise guest call following their most recent online Zoom training session.

Since 1976, the Kennedy Cup has seen countless entertaining matches with lasting memories for the players involved, including Damien Duff, Ian Harte, John O’Shea, Roy Keane, and Sheffield United’s John Egan.

Egan is in exceptional form this season for both club and country, with Ireland preparing for the European Championship play-offs and Sheffield United in a battle with the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea for the sought-after Champions League spots.

Sheffield United's John Egan (left) and Liverpool's Sadio Mane battle for the ball. 
Sheffield United's John Egan (left) and Liverpool's Sadio Mane battle for the ball. 

Egan is relishing this period, but the talented defender has had to overcome some serious challenges throughout his career to get to where he is today, including a suffering a broken leg while on loan at Bradford in 2012.

The Ireland international made himself available to talk to the Kennedy Cup players after their most recent online training session and Bermingham was delighted with the message Egan gave to the players.

“I would like to thank John for talking to the players and it certainly was a worthwhile call with everyone taking a lot from the discussion.

“He gave a lot of good advice to the players and related it to his own experience with the main message focussing on the importance of team spirit, work-rate, and attitude.

“It was great to see the players getting involved and asking John about preparation in the game, diet, and positioning, among other things, and John gave the players fantastic direction and he told them about how working as a team has helped Sheffield United get to the position that they are currently in.”

In relation to the possibility of the tournament going ahead at an alternative date, Bermingham had this to say.

“Obviously the health and safety of everyone is paramount at the moment. That has been and must continue to be the focus. In saying that, it was great to see the SFAI looking for a way to run the tournament at an alternative date if the opportunity arises to do in a safe manner.

“The players were understandably gutted when they first heard that the Kennedy Cup was cancelled, but now they at least know there is a chance it could happen if it is safe to do so.”

When Bermingham speaks about his players, the manager always praises the team’s work ethic and he is hopeful the youngsters will get the opportunity to compete in the prestigious competition if and when the opportunity arises.

“These players haven’t just been working hard this season ahead of the Kennedy Cup, they have preparing for the past few seasons and their work ethic has been second to none.

“John mentioned the importance of team spirit and work rate when talking to the players and they fully understand how important those traits are if they are to be a successful team.”

More in this section

Sponsored Content