WHILE senior status is something they are aiming for, Crosshaven AFC are focusing on their underage structure and quietly moving in the right direction.
Junior manager and club PRO Seamus Murphy is in his third year over the junior side and is really seeing the importance of the youth in the club.
“The squad is very young, mainly 18- to 20-year-olds all pretty good technically with lots of pace throughout the team and we are lucky to have them.
"The idea was always to have a mix of the older lads helping the younger lads through but that hasn't been the case. Apart from Liam Delaney, our goalkeeper who is 44 we have Adam Kiely and Jamie Byrne both 26. These are the oldest members of the current squad and play a vital role in bringing the younger lads along.
"Injuries to key older players, Fionn Murphy (ACL), John O'Brien (foot injury), Dara O'Connell (leg break) and Jordan Murphy have deprived us of that little bit of experience or cuteness as we like to say in this league. That said the younger lads are performing really well and ahead of schedule. Micheal Nugent from last year's U18 squad is finding the net regularly while the returning Padraig Murphy and Niall Deane have given us real quality.
"Added to a strong but young group already we don't fear anyone. Several of our players, Josh McCarthy, Conor Finn, Patrick Cotter, Rob Twomey all lined out for Cork, while the majority of others have all played Premier at schoolboys.
“The long-term plan is definitely to go back senior. However, there is no point rushing things for the sake of having the title of being a senior club. We will move when we have everything in place. The quality of the team is improving though it's now about giving players game time, building them up physically, giving them the right tools to compete and letting them enjoy the football.”
The club will celebrate 125 years in football next year and Murphy and his committee are working hard both on and off the pitch.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be reaching such a milestone of 125 years in football. We just launched a book written by former committee member Bill Keating entitledrecently and this is available for the Christmas market.
"The committee are working in the background on plans to mark the occasion in 2023 so it would be great to have success on the pitch also.
“Last weekend we closed an almost 20-year gap of reaching the open draw in the FAI junior cup with a comfortable win over Leeds. Our league form has been encouraging and I think that gave us huge confidence heading into last weekend's game. We hope we continue to improve week in, week out.”
While the aim is to reach senior level at some point, how competitive has the junior league being?
“I always found the Junior Premier very competitive and this year is no different. Nearly all teams are capable of getting a result off any other team. The one thing that stands out and where we need to improve is the physical transformation of a lot of teams.
Murphy was quick to praise others who play a key role within the club.
“Stuart Finn and Ray Merchant are the assistant managers and have been ever-present over the past five years with me. Stuart played with Everton before moving to Dublin. He settled back in Crosshaven about 15 years ago and is a solid coach.
"Ray was a Swansea City schoolboy, cousin of the great Dean Saunders. Still has the thick Welsh accent and sadly not a great singer. Michel Szulc is our goalkeeping coach and also plays as required. He is top drawer and again provides top-class experience having played in the Polish Second Division.
"We are also very lucky to have Richard McCarthy on board for several years now as our statistician. It's now a huge part of the game and provides invaluable insights. From time to time we use guest coaches like former Galway/Longford striker Eric Lavine or FAI Head of Coach Education Niall O'Regan who might pop in for guidance with a session.
"So as a club we are really lucky to have hard-working volunteers who all play a key role in how our club runs and long may it continue.”