Cork U14 soccer players get the chance to emulate Roy Keane in revamped Kennedy Cup

Prestigious tournament will go ahead later this year in a new format after the 2020 competition was cancelled due to Covid restrictions
Cork U14 soccer players get the chance to emulate Roy Keane in revamped Kennedy Cup

The presentation of the Kennedy Cup to Cork captain Roy Keane by Fran Ray (SFAI) after their victory over Offaly in 1986. Included is Ger Delaney (manager).

THERE is a possibility the prestigious Kennedy Cup will be back up and running by autumn giving Cork U14 soccer players the chance to take part.

The hope is the SFAI will be able to organise a regional format to kickstart the group stages, with a residential setting still not ruled out for later fixtures.

The DDSL were the last team to capture the trophy all the way back in June 2019 but due to the ongoing restrictions, no player has had the opportunity of lifting the silverware since.

The Kennedy Cup features talented U14s from all 32 of the SFAI leagues. The standard has been diluted in recent seasons with League of Ireland expanding to younger ages, and Cork City and Cobh Ramblers have U14 squads this year. 

However, it remains an opportunity to showcase gifted teenagers from Cork city and county. 

The likes of Damien Duff, Ian Harte, John O’Shea, and Roy Keane have all fondly looked back on their time competing in the competition with the latter captaining Cork to success in 1984. Since then, the tournament has continued to host countless entertaining matches with lasting memories for the players involved.

CSL secretary Eddie Doyle is hopeful the players get the chance to compete in the Kennedy Cup.

“The Cork Schoolboys League is delighted to note that the SFAI have decided to run the 2021 Kennedy Cup.

“It is by far the most prestigious tournament at schoolboys’ level and everything needs to be done to make sure the players across the country get every opportunity to compete in it.

It is great to see the players already competing in trials for the Cork squad and hopefully such sessions continue over the coming weeks and months and that the players and coaches get to take part in the Kennedy Cup later in the year.”

The competition welcomes squads of 20 U14 players to compete over a week of action with each team having hopes of winning silverware.

The annual competition which is usually held in Limerick, like all other competitive football tournaments, has been postponed due to the ever-changing national restrictions.

Events off the pitch saw players missing out on the chance of competing in the national tournament in the 2019/2020 season.

A positive for last season’s squad however was the surprise video call from Republic of Ireland International and Sheffield United centre-back John Egan.

The Republic of Ireland international made himself available to talk to the 2020 Kennedy Cup players at a time when the players were understandably disappointed.

Having overcome some serious challenges throughout his career to get to where he is today, including suffering a broken leg while on loan at Bradford in 2012, Egan encouraged the youngsters to overcome disappointments and to subsequently challenge themselves going forward.

This year’s squad look set to compete in the tournament, albeit in a different format.

The teams may initially get to compete in regionalised groups with the likelihood the group winners to go on to play against each other at some point in the future.

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