Super Saints ascension

by Karl Graham
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IT’S all change at St Francis FC as many of their all-conquering Under-16 stars leave the club for pastures new both home and abroad following an historic five-year spell for the club.
They won a series of All-Ireland titles during their time with the club but have dispersed in a number of different, high quality directions.
Several players have already moved on to the United Kingdom over the last couple of months with Tommy Caffrey turning down several teams before signing for Scottish champions Celtic on a three-year deal.
Jack Connolly, who spent 11 years at St Francis, has joined Sunderland on a three-year contract, while Joshua Kayode’s impressive season saw English Championship side Rotherham United come calling.
Former player Millenic Alli moved to the UK recently with his family and has impressed League One side Bury FC enough to sign a two-year contract with the Greater Manchester team.
James Jennings will also be making the move to England when he puts pen to paper for Premiership side Stoke City.
Back at home, underage international Cian Hughes has made the short trip up the tracks to Inchicore, signing for the St Patrick’s Athletic Under-17 National League squad, while Charlie Smith will now be representing UCD.
Elsewhere, Conor Fitzharris has exchanged one set of hoops for another after signing for Shamrock Rovers, while Jake Byrne has crossed the county border into Wicklow to don the colours of Bray Wanderers.
It is Shelbourne who have shopped most at St Francis having snapped up a quartet of talent from the Baldonnel side in the form of Dylan Connolly, Adam McCall, Charlie Barry and Jordan Walker.
The players’ former manager at St Francis Mark Connolly spoke to GazetteSport about the club’s pride at the moves.
“Whether it’s the lads that are gone to the UK or the lads playing here in the League of Ireland, it justifies all the hard work they’ve put in over the last seven or eight year playing for the club.
“I’m delighted for them as their coach and obviously everybody in the club is delighted for them.”
“Anybody going to the UK obviously needs a lot of luck to try and move up the ladder. For the lads who have gone over, their attitude is probably one of the main things that got them there. They’re all top trainers, their diets, their strength of conditioning; they were doing so much outside of St Francis,” Connolly continued.
Connolly is moving back to the club’s Under-15s this year and is looking forward to helping a new group of players to develop their talents.
“We have a really good group coming through.
“We have one kid who has made the Ireland Under-15s squad for the Hibernia Cup and we have another four or five lads of that age group going over to the UK over the next couple of weeks,” he said.

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