IT'S a repeat of last year's final as the Cork Youth League side take on Galway in what is expected to be a cracker of a game.
Eamonn Deacy Park in Galway on February 5 is the place to be for this year's inter-league final as Cork look to retain the title.
Having narrowly defeated the Tribesmen in 2022, they will be looking for revenge. Cork manager Brian Newman is hoping his side can make it back-to-back wins.
“Cork have never done that so it is an incentive for us and the players.
“The Cork Youth League committee has been unwavering in their support this season as have our sponsors DISC Industrial Supplies so for those and the clubs, parents and players, we would love to reward them by winning the title."
A new-look squad with only one player from last year's team, Newman knows the opposition will have an advantage. However, he is confident he still has plenty of experience.
“Unfortunately for us, we only have one player from last year's squad, Harvey Skieters, so a whole new squad had to be put together. However, we do have players who have won the National Cup with College Corinthians U17 so we'll be looking to them with that experience to help the others. The squad of 23 players is made up of players from 10 different clubs with U18 Premier, U18 Division 1 and U17 Premier League teams represented.”
En route to the final, Newman’s side had wins over Waterford, Wexford and Mayo, all of which he felt his squad learned a lot from and he hopes the experience from each game will help in his quest to beat a talented Galway side.
“They are a big physical ball-playing side who topped their group and defeated Donegal in the semi-final 3-2. We were at that game and saw plenty of quality in Galway that will take beating on their home patch. However, we are more than ready for the challenge.
“Our path to the final started with an excellent 4-0 away victory to a very good Waterford side. Everything went right for us on the day and we were clinical in our finishing. Darragh O'Shea was the standout player scoring a hat-trick with Conor Varian scoring our fourth.
“Our second Group game was at home to Wexford which finished 2-2. Unfortunately,, we left a two-goal lead slip in the second half and our performance left a lot to be desired. Aaron McCarthy got our two goals on the day.
“We defeated Mayo 3-0 in the semi-final away in Castlebar. In atrocious testing weather conditions the boys were outstanding from start to finish. Luke O'Donnell, Harry Skieters and Matthew Broderick with our goals."
They have had huge commitment from the lads from their very first session.
"We never have less than 18 players training which makes our jobs as coaches much easier.
“I'm lucky enough to have a wonderful management team alongside me who keep me on my toes. Colin Yelverton is assistant manager. Lenny Forde does most of the coaching with Colin.
"Eoghan Walsh is our Strength and Conditioning coach but for a young guy brings a wealth of experience to the group on many fronts.
"Then we have the young guns in ex-CYL players. Adam Walsh looks after our warm-ups and any physical training session we require and Darragh Newman is our goalkeeping coach. He was also part of the 2018 winning squad.
"Huge thanks must go to John Walsh, who recently moved on from our group, Terry Ryan, Dylan Collins and Gary Hackett who have all stepped in at short notice to help us when required."
Over the last six years, he has gone from being a parent at games to a club manager and now inter-league boss.
"I've had the honour of coaching and managing some terrific teams and players who have been hugely successful but honestly that's down to players buying into our ethos of 110% commitment, hard work and effort. Aligned to their undoubted skills that's what has secured trophies.
"Special thanks to my wife Angela and my children Emma and Darragh for their support and backing not just this year but continuously over the years as I couldn't do this without them and their 100% commitment to my sporting passion.”