Local youngsters excel in Galway Umbro Cup
NINE YOUNG Wexford Under-15 soccer players played a major role for the South East Development Squad at last week's Umbro Galway Cup International tournament.
The five-day event was hosted by Salthill Devon F.C. at their magnificent ?6 million complex on the outskirts of the western capital.
Competing in the elite seven-team section of the first major international tournament to be held in the Republic of Ireland, the South East boys had no luck in their opening game with Bohemians on Monday of last week.
Despite enjoying the lion's share of the play, the Carlow-Wexford-Wicklow combination were hit by an early goal against the run of play which was the deciding factor in this game in favour of the academy team from the famous Phibsboro-based Dublin club.
The Bunclody pair of Dwayne Somers and Tomás Brennan anchored the midfield, ably supported by Conor Wallace, Tiernan O'Gara and goalkeeper Willie Doyle who had a magnificent tournament in the west.
That setback was put behind them on the following evening when the team achieved a magnificent draw with the Irish Under-15 Development Squad, subsequent winners of the tournament over Glasgow Celtic in Friday's final.
In a game watched by F.A.I. Technical Director Packie Bonner, Wexford players Tomás Brennan, Dwayne Somers, James Cogley, Seán Miller, Niall McLoughlin, Tiernan O'Gara and goalie Doyle from Fethard showed their All-Ireland winning form, with the South East combination almost nicking all the points when Carlow player Conor Byrne had a last-minute header from a corner stopped on the line by a defender.
Fourteen hours later the team was in action against tournament favourites Glasgow Celtic who had set a marker for the competition with a 3-1 defeat of the Republic's squad on the opening day at Terryland Park.
A brave effort from the South East lads was in vain on this occasion, however, and the famous Glasgow club in green and white hoops ran out easy 4-0 winners.
Despite this reversal, heads did not drop and on Wednesday afternoon the South East recorded their first victory with a comfortable 5-1 defeat of Oxfordshire Academy team, F.C. Yarnton, who are managed by ex-Celtic and Chelsea player Paul Elliott.
In this game Wexford player Chris Kenny played a leading role, backed up by Conor Wallace, Seán Miller, Niall McLoughlin and James Cogley.
Thursday dawned with a lot of football still to be played but a 3-1 loss to a very talented Preston North End deflated a now tired squad. They also lost 2-1 to Canadian side Calgary Foothills which placed the team fifth overall after the league section of the tournament was completed.
This, however, ensured a further game on finals day on Friday last and the South East, which included Willie Doyle, Chris Kenny, Tomás Brennan and Conor Wallace from Wexford, confirmed their earlier superiority over F.C. Yarnton by winning the fifth and sixth place play-off 3-0, with Conor Wallace hitting the net twice. In addition to the nine Wexford players in action, the 23-strong South East squad also included five Carlow and nine Wicklow players.
The full panel was Dwayne Somers (captain), Tomás Brennan, James Cogley, Willie Doyle, Chris Kenny, Niall McLoughlin, Seán Miller, Tiernan O'Gara and Conor Wallace (Wexford); Conor Byrne, Patrick Hutton, Jamie Kavanagh, David O'Shea and Steve Purcell (Carlow); Oisín Doyle, Aaron Earls, Robin Kelly, Robert Lambert, Niall Manning, Mark Nolan, Darren Rowan, Chris Sheridan and Paul Werder (Wicklow).