ST KEVIN’S Boys were celebrating yet another marquee weekend on the national stage as no fewer than five of the club’s underage sides progressed to the quarter-finals of their respective all-Ireland SFAI Cup competitions.
The Whitehall-based club sent teams across the country with sides fielded in Cork, Wexford and Kildare.
At Under-12 level, both the Kevin’s Under-12s and the Under-11s – playing a year above their age – prevailed against tough provincial sides.
The older group won 4-1 against a physical Forth Celtic side in Murrintown, Co Wexford, while the 11s were 5-0 victors at home against Wilton United of Cork.
The Under-13s – who will contest the annual Academy Cup alongside the likes of Barcelona and Bayer Leverkusen next month – were 3-0 winners over Caragh Celtic in Donore, Co Kildare.
In the most keenly-contested of the weekend’s games, the under-14s ran out 4-2 winners over Dublin rivals St Joseph’s Boys, while the Under-15s won 6-1 in Charleville, Co Cork.
For club PRO Neil Fox, who travelled with the 12s to Wexford, the real value is in the taste away trips like these give players of the lifestyle of a professional footballer.
“It was a great experience for the 12s to go down to Wexford and experience football outside the Pale, as it were,” Fox said.
Goals from Logan Preston, Danny McGrath, Ryan Markey and Mark Tarzan saw the 12s run out deserved winners.
“There’s no better than travelling around Ireland to play different teams in a cup competition. It’s a great experience for the kids.
“Little things like travelling in the coach as a team, experiencing the atmosphere, getting a bit of food before the game, playing the game and then travelling back.
“It gives them an idea of what professional footballers do, day-in, day-out in Ireland, in England and around the world.”
The Under-13s recently returned from a tournament in Barcelona where, having beaten Luton Town, they lost out to Spanish giants Espanyol and Valencia – both of whom contested the final.
The club recently announced a link-up with League of Ireland side Bohemians, which will see them field a joint team at under-15 National League level.
Fox believes it’s all part of providing as much education as possible to players so they can make choices later in life, regardless of whether or not they choose to pursue football.
“We’d be trying to keep the kids here, saying we’ve got a great link with Bohemians, and if you play well and work well, the English clubs will be keeping tabs on you and they’ll still want you.
“It’s tough to keep the kids in Ireland when you have the lure of big clubs in England. Kids growing up, even myself, everyone wants to play in England.”