The 2017 League of Ireland Under-17 League kicked off over the weekend with 13 games down for decision.
Bohemians beat Monaghan/Cavan 6-0 and Galway United beat the Kerry League 4-0 to get one the weekend’s biggest winners.
Other results of note were Waterford’s 2-2 draw with Cork City, Cobh’s 2-1 defeat of Wexford and Athlone’s 2-0 win over Sligo Rovers.
A highly entertaining and fiercely competitive and entertaining 2-2 draw at the RSC between Waterford FC and Cork City was one of the highlights of the weekend.
Cork City went ahead after 20 minutes thanks to an excellent solo effort from captain Cian Murphy who is playing his third season for Cork City at this level.
Waterford drew level 15 minutes later from a long ball over the top which was inadvertently headed back towards his own goal by centre back Jack O’Sullivan for the Waterford striker Ciaran Brennan to level up this Munster Derby.
In the second half Waterford wing back Mike Nzongong put the Blues ahead with a fantastic individual effort, albeit against the run of play at the time.
Cork City rallied and were level within 10 minutes when Cian Murphy got his second of the game with a clinical header when he found himself unmarked six yards out.
After this it could have gone either way, both teams had chances to win but in the end both sides were reasonably happy with a point.
Waterford FC manager John Furlong said afterwards, “I think at the end that I couldn’t say I was complaining by the sound of the final whistle. We got our noses in front which I was pleased about after going a goal behind but then when they equalised they did have a bit of a push the last ten or 15 minutes.”
“I thought that we defended well, organised ourselves very well and battled hard so I’m pleased with a point at the end of the day.”
“I thought that Cork were probably more physical than us so when you are a goal down, you do worry a little bit but the lads responded well.”
“It’s a good positive opening from us. You don’t know what the division is going to be like but you would assume that Cork City are one of the stronger teams so to take a point on the opening day isn’t bad.”
“We’re off to Kerry now in two weeks’ time and that will be a different challenge for us.”
Galway United legend Alan Murphy said after his first game as Manager, a 4-0 win over the Kerry League, said, “Yesterday’s game gave the players the opportunity to have a competitive game after 2 months hard work in preparation for the Kerry game.”
“The players enjoyed the experience and performed excellently throughout.”
“Conditions were difficult at times but the players displayed great character and focus.”
On the aim for the season, “The aim for this group of players is to develop both their unique individual talent along with their organisation within the team.”
“It would be a personal aim of mine to get some of the players to step up in level to the U-19’s and even first team if possible throughout the season.”
On being back in the fold at the club, Murphy said, “It was personally great to be back involved with Galway United and continuing to push on in terms of my coaching experience and ambition.”
Longford Town manager James Dermody said after their 1-0 defeat to Drogheda United, “It was a really tough and entertaining game.”
“Played at a good tempo, we conceded after only five minutes from a corner.”
“After that we dominated the next 40 minutes and failed to convert one-on-one opportunities when our striker Cian Cheevers had two glorious chances both within 5 minutes of each other.”
“The Drogheda goal-keeper pulled off two great saves to deny us going in 1-1 at the break.”
“Second half was more of the same, we create opportunities and couldn’t break down their solid back 4.”
“We hit the post on 75 mins from a strike from Kilian Flynn.”
“It was a well played game with both teams giving it 100%. We are very disappointed not to have come away with at least a point but from a development point of view it was excellent for the players.”
“We have 6 players that were born in 2001 and 1 in 2002 so the learning for these young players is exciting.”
“Our main goal is always development over results so we are delighted with the overall performance from our players.”
A depleted Shamrock Rovers side carved out a good win away to Cabinteely FC at Stradbrook. Conor Grant put Rovers into the lead in a first half in which both goalkeepers were kept very busy.
Jack Kelly doubled the lead in the second half but then the Hoops began to play deep and the home side came more into the game. Zac O’Neill got one back for Cabinteely to set up an interesting finish to the game.
Cobh Ramblers Damien Rowe was quite pleased with his sides efforts in their 2-1 win over Wexford saying, “Good to get the first win of season in the first game even if we didn’t play as well as we can.”
“We played well in the first half with two good goals from Cameron Harlson and Eoin O’Donovan, after good work from Jack Ford and Jack Turner.”
“We have two weeks until the next game so it gives us more time to fine tune for this inexperienced squad ahead of trip to Shamrock Rovers.”
Rowe was quick to praise Wexford however saying, “They never gave in and pushed hard in second half and I can see them being a surprise for teams this year.”
“Our best players on the day for us were our back 5”
Monaghan/Cavan fell to a 6-0 defeat against Bohemians, and Manager Paul Smyth couldn’t hide his disappointment afterwards, “We are disappointed with the scoreline on Saturday. I felt we were very much in the game up until 60 minutes.”
“We then conceded four goals from set pieces which is disappointing but we have no option but to get back on the training pitch and work on it.”
“This league is a great opportunity for young local players. Previously some of these lads had to travel elsewhere to play a high level but now the partnership provides that opportunity.”
“Our main goal is to be competitive this season. I have no doubt the lads will improve as they go along and we will match most teams.”
“We also have a number of players born in 2001 in the squad so there is a great base for the following year aswell.”
Two players from last year’s squad are eligible again this season, goalkeeper Daniel Murdock and captain Seosamh Sheerin.
The Kerry League’s manager Darren Aherne, while disappointed with the scoreline felt his side performed well, “Overall I am disappointed to be beaten 4-0, but again it just shows myself and the players the harshness of this standard of football, and how it will develop a much better standard of footballer for our national league.”
“The score line suggests that we were poor but I don’t feel that’s a fair reflection of how the players performed.”
“The first goal came from a moment of individual excellence from the Galway wide right which you have to commend the young man on.”
“We then conceded 2 goals from identical set pieces which is a point of annoyance for myself and the staff. But again it shows how important set pieces are when you are playing at this standard.”
“We need to address how this happened with match analysis during the week at training and look to improve in this area.”
“However I feel that this is an area that needs a lot of work from the coaches that work with these players in the various schoolboy leagues around the country. We also had 6 players making their debut at this level, a fact I was very happy with.”
On the expectations for the year ahead, Aherne said, “Myself, the staff and the players have already set our own goals for the coming season.”
“For myself the main area would be to see an improvement in the players ability to play at this level of football. It’s our second season and we should see a level of adjustment in the players.”
“I have already seen a different approach from the players that played last season, they now want to achieve something rather than being happy just participating.”
“Locally I can see that the younger players around Kerry are now planning on playing for this team. It has become part of the player pathway for young soccer players in Kerry which is a great thing and why this league was started.”
Aherne had special mention for centre-back James Rusk who he felt was excellent for his first game at this level. Also right-back John Hayes, and left-back John Ward who are all U-16’s, while Eoin Clifford showed great leadership in midfield when it was needed most.
Northern Elite Division
Shelbourne 1 Dundalk 1
Monaghan/Cavan 0 Bohemians 6
Drogheda United 1 Longford Town 0
Athlone 2 Sligo Rovers 0
Southern Elite Division
UCD 1 Bray Wanderers 1
Cobh Ramblers 2 Wexford 1
Waterford 2 Cork City 2
Galway United 4 Kerry League 0
Cabinteely 1 Shamrock Rovers 2
Goggins – Shamrock Rovers
Michael Geasley – Cobh Ramblers