Bohemians and schoolboy club St Kevin’s Boys took home two all-Ireland titles out of three from the DB Sports Cup at Oriel Park in Dundalk last Saturday to add to their incredible reputation of success.
The schoolboy club’s Under-13 and Under-14 sides were triumphant over Belfast side Glentoran and Tyrone side Dungannon Swifts respectively, while the Under-15s lost out to Glentoran.
The Under-14s were the day’s big winners as they thumped Dungannon 5-1 thanks to a brace from Jamie Murphy and goals from Billy Gilmore, Derin Adewale and Byron Preston.
The Under-13s were 4-1 winners over the Glens in a game that was perhaps tougher than the scoreline suggests, with Mark Tarzan, Ryan Markey on target alongside a Nickson Okuson double.
The Under-15s were outclassed 4-0 by the same club in the day’s final game, but all three sides acquitted themselves well in their first game of the year against clubs in mid-season.
All three sides were much-changed in the off-season, with the 13s and 15s losing players to the club’s partnership with Bohemians in the underage League of Ireland.
There have been management changes within the set-ups too and, with trials finishing only before Christmas, the teams are still very much in the process of gelling at playing and coaching level.
So for St Kevin’s Boys PRO Neil Fox, the haul of two wins from three is a more than satisfactory point heading into the new DDSL season, which kicks off at the end of February.
“All three teams are fairly new teams and there’s a lot of new players in those three teams. A lot of them are getting used to each other,” Fox tells the Dublin Gazette.
“The Northern teams would be physical and they’d be physical games. We’ve always had the same philosophy in Kevin’s to keep the ball on the ground and play out from the back.
“That played to our advantage in the 13s and 14s. In the 15s, it was a little bit more physical and, to be fair to them, they were the better team.”
With Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick starring in the Premier League and for Ireland, Kevin’s remains the go-to location for young players in Dublin who want to make it in the professional game.
And the club’s underage link-up with Bohs is bearing more fruit by the year, with Daniel Mandroiu (Brighton) and Luke Wade-Slater (Stevenage) the latest to swap England for Dalymount Park.
“We’re still involved with the 13s, 15s and 17s. And a lot of players from last year’s 17s will be heading up to the 19s at Bohs, and they’ve a lot of ex-Kevin’s players.
“They’ve signed a few this year, with Daniel Madroiu and Luke Wade-Slater that played with us. There’s still a huge link that binds the two clubs.
“The League of Ireland is always going to struggle to compete against going across the water but now, with the under-13s [league], you’re playing the best of the best all over Ireland.
“It’s an awful lot for the Under-13s, and a lot of these lads are 12s going into the 13s, so it’s a big step for them, but if you want to become a professional footballer this is the step you’ve got to take.”