The Kerry League made history last night, as they won a Cup game in the League of Ireland for the first time. They beat local Rivals Cobh Ramblers in a penalty shoot-out in the U-17 Mark Farren Cup. The game had earlier finished 1-1 after-extra-time.
Thomas Burke had give the Kerry League the lead five minutes into extra-time, only for substitute Jaze Kabia to equalise five minutes from time.
In the shoot-out it headed into sudden-death, and when Cobh goalkeeper David Harrington had his effort saved it was the Kerry League who celebrated and move on into the second round.
We spoke to both managers after the game;
Kerry’s Darren Aherne said, “It was a great night that will live long in my memory for sure.
We asked him the result being history-making, and he said, “It’s not our objective to make history. We are just coaches and players looking to get some success from an elite U-17 environment. But it is something that I do mention to the players on occasion, that we are the first group to achieve these things from our County/Area as we do have players from Limerick in our squad.”
“These Limerick lads are vital to our successes, and they have also come up through the FAI emerging talent program, which has the aim of developing players for this standard of football.”
“So at the moment we are achieving many firsts as a group, but I’m sure we will be brought back down to earth pretty soon, but at the moment we are having great fun.”
Aherne continued, “The win was brilliant. Travelling on Wednesday night had it’s difficulties. We left straight after school, with some players still in their uniforms. I must thank the parents for their support with this.”
On the game itself he said, “I have to say our first 20 minutes of the game reflected the challenges of a midweek game. Cobh started really strongly and I have to say we rode our luck on occasion.”
“We started to adjust for the remainder of the half after this. We are two evenly matched teams, and the chances and the score reflected this on the night.”
“Thomas Burke got a very important goal to give us the edge. We had a great chance to go two up, but great credit was due to Cobh in how they responded, and they got a deserved equalizer.”
“On to the dreaded shoot out. I now know I have six strong characters in the group, as they immediately wanted to take a penalty. I said to our keeper Robert Osbourne to go and enjoy the shoot-out which is what he did, and he became the hero on the night making two excellent saves.”
When asked how big was the win for Kerry football in general Aherne said, “I suppose to put it in context as to what it means for the football community in Kerry, the texts of congratulations started once the final whistle was sounded. It made headline news on Radio Kerry this morning, and the phrase ‘three wins in all competitions’ has been used. So I have already contacted the players this morning to guard against complacency, and to focus them on their recovery over the coming days in preparation for what will be another stern test against Cobh on Sunday.”
He was also quick to praise all the players, and staff, “If this squad has any chance of achieving anything at this level then it will always be a team effort that is needed.”
“We made a few changes from the Cabinteely game, and to also help us get something from the 2 games in 5 days.”
“All of the changes gave a very good account of themselves, which shows myself and the staff, that we have a squad that we can utilize over the coming months.”
“Special mention must go to our keeper Robert Osbourne who handled everything that Cobh threw at him on the night, and made the all- important saves in the shootout. Thomas Burke came up with our goal in extra time. And I have to say some of our penalties where of the highest standard, Sheagh O’Connor and James Rusk in particular.”
With the Kerry League having no U-19 team we asked Darren about the future for theses players and also for the Kerry League. He said, “It would be my hope that in time that Kerry will have all levels of Airtricity league football available to the footballers in Kerry. So that a young footballer from this area can plan his development through the various stages. This will take some time but hopefully it will come to pass. For now we will continue to work hard at trying to achieve our goals for the coming season.”
Cobh boss Damien Rowe was naturally disappointed but also pleased with the performance of his players. He said, “Very happy with a lot of our play tonight, however we just didn’t take our chances, and weren’t clinical enough.”
We had six changes from the limerick game, and those changes didn’t disappoint. There was a good reaction to going behind in extra time to get level, but penalties then are a lottery.”
“Lots of positives tonight which is the main thing to take from game. Our best players on the night were Sean Hayes, Conor Walsh, Nathan O’Connell and Conor Drinan”