FOR the second year running, Everton junior soccer team captured the league title and for captain Rob O’Sullivan it was the most competitive season in a while.
“It was a superb season for us but it was also a really competitive one which made it more interesting,” said O’Sullivan.
“We ended up winning 16 out of 18 league games losing two. Having won 11 of the first 12 we had opened up a big gap but College Corinthians went on a great run including deservedly beating us along the way to put a bit of pressure on us but luckily we got over the line with a few grind out wins to wrap up the title with a game to spare.
“This is our second title in a row having won the previous completed season in 2019-'20.
“I was fortunate enough to captain the side this year. I had big shoes to fill taking over from the previous year's winning captain Graeme Browne.
“The group we have this year is the best group I’ve been around in all my years playing football. Not just in quality but how well we all get on. A good mixture of youth and experience, we have a couple of teenagers and a few in their 40s.
“We have a lot of top quality players who would fit into most senior teams but our biggest strength was our squad and coaching staff.
“Every game or training we knew we would have 20 really good players at a minimum, that was probably the biggest difference between us and the other top teams, the credit for both putting and keeping this squad together goes to the coaching team especially the main man Eddie ‘Birdie’ McCarthy.
“He has had two full seasons as manager, both league winning seasons.”
The father of two to Emilia and Isabelle played most of his career with Douglas side Tramore Athletic however needing a change, he made the decision to move to Everton which proved to be a successful one.
“I moved to Everton at the start of the 19/20 season after a long time with Tramore seniors.Why did I move?
“We were on the back of a few tough seasons in the Senior second division and I felt it was time for a change.
“Obviously a decision I don’t regret having won two Junior Premier Leagues in the two full seasons here. I’m lucky because both clubs have great people in them who have always looked after me.
“The only disappointment of this year has been our cup runs.
“Beaten in the semi-final of the League Cup at the start of the season and obviously the disappointing loss to Wilton last weekend in the junior super cup where we had enough chances to win a few games but we didn’t get the rub of the Green on the day.
“My brothers play with Wilton and playing against them was a strange experience, they both played well on the day and I’m sure I will now never hear the end of it from them but at least I managed to get a few kicks in on both of them on the day,” laughs O’Sullivan.
“I hope now they can go all the way.”
While Everton is his current club and a side he is thoroughly enjoying playing with, the Ballyphehane man was quick to praise his previous clubs for developing him into the player he is today.
I started my football with Hibernians in Shanbally winning a Schoolboys League First Division along the way before moving to Tramore.
“Winning promotion to the Senior Premier Division twice with Tramore under firstly Stephen Heaphy and then under Mark O’Connell were probably the highlights of my time there as well as winning a Pop Kelleher Cup and a Donnie Ford cup against a great Avondale team in the final under Mr Tramore Der O’Callaghan and Ken Maye.
“I loved playing there and I still have a lot of friends involved there now so I get down to support them when I can, the club is definitely going in the right direction again now which is great to see.
“Going from the Senior second division to the Junior Premier Division I did not see any difference in standard.
“In fact the top teams in the Junior Premier would be competitive in the Senior First Division in my opinion.
“I have played Senior for Everton a few times this season in the First Division and over the last couple of years but I don’t know what the future holds but for now I’m happy where I am and hope we can push on from here.”