FOR Leeside AFC last Saturday will go down in the club’s history as a very memorable day with the prestigious Kennedy Cup All-Ireland winning trophy being displayed for all club members along with the families of the three Leeside players at Leeside AFC.
Brendan McCarthy, Chairperson of Leeside AFC opened proceedings, welcoming home the Leeside players Rory Cullinane, Aaron O’Mahony, and Ryan Dineen, and congratulating them on their achievement on winning this Under 14 National trophy which was last won by Cork in 1989.
He went on to thank their families for the sacrifices and effort they made over the past eight months of travelling for squad training, and challenge games throughout the country.
Don O’Mahony, the club’s schoolboy secretary, introduced Cork’s Kennedy Cup Head Coach Robin O’Day and goalkeeping coach Stephen O’Sullivan to the large and enthusiastic gathering.
Coach O’Day gave a brief synopsis of what the players went through before journeying to UL to participate in the competition.
Whilst based in Kerry as a full- time soccer coach, he was born in Kinsale and lived there until he was nine years old, so it was an honour for him to come back and guide a Cork team, and then to be successful in his endeavours was unbelievable.
This being the pinnacle of Under 14 soccer in Ireland he emphasised it should be used as a stepping stone, by those players, towards further honours.
He explained how as the competition progressed the team spirit was growing and the bond that was created during those long winter evenings at Carrigaline really came to the fore.
His philosophy of coaching a team is not alone to manage your own team’s game but to also endeavour to manage the oppositions, and this was very evident in the final against a very talented and physically strong Waterford team.
He had 20 players in the squad and they all played in the final which gave him enormous satisfaction.
Stephen O’Sullivan, the goalkeeping coach, expressed his satisfaction on the performance of both goalkeepers Rory Cullinane and Adam Lee especially seeing them make crucial saves during the tournament.
A special tribute was paid to Conor Murray who has coached the three Leeside players since they were six years old and he surely got great satisfaction seeing the players he coached from a young age being so successful on the national stage.
It was nice to see one of the 1986 Cork Kennedy Cup winning team players, Len Downey whose son plays with Leeside, attend the gathering, and congratulated the players.
The two other coaches Darren O’Day and Dylan Gregson contributions were praised, but were unable to attend.
When the celebration of the three players, coaches and team’s successful efforts were fully acknowledged the large gathering were treated to snacks and refreshments, a credit to Leeside AFC who operate from their base in Little Island, in the parish of Glounthaune.