Saints bouncing back

by James Hendicott
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ST FRANCIS’ return to Leinster Senior League is powering ahead, according to reports, after the former League of Ireland club were forced to pull out of the LSL last season as they couldn’t field a side in the Senior Sunday Division 1A.
The club have appointed Kevin Smith Junior as adult manager, according to the Junior Soccer Portal, as well as appointing a committee to help rebuild the adult sides from scratch.
Dropping out of the third tier of Leinster football was a real low point for the team that played League of Ireland football between 1996 and 2001, with the club left with no adult team at all for the season. The fall from grace is a far cry from the powerhouse side of the 90s and turn of the century, a club that remain the only amateur side the reach the FAI Senior Cup Final since the 50s.
The team have been welcomed back by the LSL for next term, though it’s unclear at the moment which division they will be playing in when the action gets back underway come autumn. They are expected to play at junior level, as opposed to intermediate.
Last year’s absence is likely to mean starting from near the bottom, particularly with the influx of clubs this summer, but the presence of adult football at John Hyland Park will certainly be the main concern to start out with.
Following a dispute in Dublin’s other major amateur soccer competition, the AUL, eight sides have been allowed to move to the Leinster Senior League following a vocal protest against the league’s organisers.
This has proven the more appealing option for top AUL sides in recent years, as it holds the option of promotion to intermediate football, something that the AUL doesn’t offer.
A very real consequence, of course, is the continued weakening of the AUL as a result.
The eight sides moving across means the LSL will be growing substantially next time around, however, and with no announcements made on the placement of the eight of St Joseph’s, club congestion could be an issue.
New clubs crossing from AUL in recent years have typically been placed in major (junior) divisions, with intermediate goals often fulfilled in the coming seasons, as shown by the likes of Liffey Wanderers (who have taken both the FAI Intermediate and Junior Cups in recent years) and – a little less recently – top level LSL sides like Killester, Cherry Orchard and Tolka Rovers.
When St Joseph’s return, though, it will be with the backing of one of the best youth sections in the country, and a far more substantial reputation and local following than the clubs around them. If they get things right, an adult section could easily flourish again.

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