The Road to the Airtricity Under 19 Southern Division Title 2014
How ironic that the journey undertaken by the Mervue United U19 team to clinch the Airtricity U19 Southern Division Title should start on a glorious sunny day in August 2013 in Ferrycarrig Park, the home of Wexford Youths, and end in triumph for the Galway side in late January 2014, on the last day of the season, at the same venue.
A new look Mervue United team took to the field in their first competitive game in the Airtricity U19 Southern Division away to Wexford Youths last August. Signs were ominous when, on the stroke of half time they lost influential captain Richard Fahy to a serious injury and minutes after the interval conceded to the home side. However a sublime free kick by Aaron Mc Donagh followed by an 88th minute spectacular volley by Michael James saw the visitors steal all three points and return to Galway buoyed with confidence for the challenges that lay ahead. In the remaining three games in the first series against Bohemians, Limerick FC and Longford Town, Mervue garnered a further seven points leaving them sitting in pole position heading into the second series of game.
The second series proved to be extremely difficult to negotiate with all of the teams in the group taking points off each other. The highlight of this series was a thrilling 4-4 draw away to Dublin kingpins Bohemians in Dalymount Park in late October. Trailing three nil after 20 minutes and reduced to ten men, Mervue United’s season appeared to be evaporating before their very eyes. Despite their predicament they didn’t panic and managed to claw themselves back into the game to lead 4-3 with minutes remaining only to succumb to an injury time equaliser. Three points lost or a point gained? How crucial that point would turn out to be. Seven points captured in series two and still top of the Southern Division table.
Mervue entered the final series of games with their sights set on the ultimate prize. Early December saw them comfortably beat Wexford Youths in Ferrycarrig Park only to surrender their top of the table position a week later to chasing rivals Limerick FC. Bohemians who had enjoyed an extended unbeaten run since late September had now joined Mervue and Limerick in the race for the title. Mervue’s first game of the New Year was a home tie with Bohemians, a game that would ultimately decide the fate of either team. In an absorbing contest played in dreadful conditions Mervue’s top goalscorer Padraic Cunningham rifled home the only goal of the game to send his side back to the top of the table once again. One week later Mervue completed their League program with a game against Longford Town in City Calling Stadium, Longford. Mervue recorded their highest win of the twelve game series romping to a comprehensive 7-1 victory with the talented Ryan Manning scoring four of his sides tally leaving Mervue two points clear of their nearest rivals Limerick FC who had a game in hand.
A week later and all the attention focused on Ferrycarrig Park where Wexford Youths entertained favourites Limerick FC in the final series with the visitors knowing that only a win would be good enough to clinch the title. Wexford scored early in the game and led 1-0 at the interval. Limerick equalised just after the break and went 2-1 ahead with fifteen minutes remaining. As the clock ticked towards the 90th minute Wexford Youths pounced for the equaliser. Moments later the full time whistle sounded and the Airtricity U19 Southern Division trophy was on its way to Galway.
Great credit must go to an extremely dedicated and talented group of players whose resilience, determination and skill were the hallmarks of a fantastic League campaign.
For manager Justin Neary and his backroom team of Colin Nolan, Ollie Neary and Gerry Murphy it was a case of mission accomplished and a satisfying outcome to an enthralling roller coaster season. Ryan Manning was released to play for the newly formed Galway F.C. and talented winger Aaron McDonagh is expected to follow suit in the July transfer window.
Mervue U19’s are currently engaged in a final series of play-off games which has afforded them an opportunity to blood new talent for next season. They can now look forward to playing in one of the expanded Northern or Southern Divisions that are proposed for the 2014/2015 season.
Mervue United U19’s will be presented with the Airtricity Southern Division U-19 Cup following their last home game on Thursday 20th March at Fahy’s Field against Limerick F.C. 7.30 p.m. kick off.
Chairman of the Airtricity League Eamonn Naughton, Airtricity U-19 League Co-ordinator Pat Duffy and a representative of Airtricity will be in attendance to make the presentation. All support would be welcome on the night.
All three club juvenile sides in Connacht Cup action last weekend enjoyed a successful passage to the next round.
Under 16 Connacht Cup - Mervue Utd A 6-1 Hodson Bay (Athlone)
Five goals from striker Andrew Connolly and a sixth from Robert Spelman ensured the home side advanced to the next round of the provincial cup at Fahy's Field on Sunday afternoon. Connolly struck a first half hat-trick to give the home side a 3-1 lead at the break and then added two more after the re-start to stretch the lead to 5-1 before Robert Spelman added the final goal for a 6-1 win.
Under 12 Connacht Cup - Killoe (Longford) 1-7 Mervue Utd
Goals from Andjrean Adeeko (2), Colin Kelly, Mikey Devaney, Charlie Phillipe, Ryan Corcoran and Timmy Osewa saw the club's Under 12 side run out comfortable winners in Longford on Sunday afternoon in the Connacht Cup.
Under 14 Connacht Cup - Mervue Utd 2-1 Ballinasloe Town
Despite finding themselves a goal down after just three minutes the home side fought back to advanced in the Connacht Cup at a wet Fahys Field on Saturday afternoon. Ronan Manning level matters from a well taken quick free-kick and Patrick Doyle struck the winner before the break and they should have added to that scoreline in a scoreless second period.
It has been a great past couple of week's for the club with four more cups added to the club's honours list for the season which included a Connacht Cup double as both the Under 12 and Youth teams won their provincial titles in early May, while both the Under 15 and Under 16 teams secured their Premier Division League titles.
The club's 12 team put in magnificent performance in Abbeycarton, Longford in the first weekend in May (Saturday 5th May) as they came from a goal down to defeat Westport Utd in the Final of the Connacht Cup. This young side didn't let the concession of an early goal unsettle them as they battled back with three strikes of their own. Captain Ronan Manning led by example as he scored two excellent first half goals to give Mervue a 2-1 lead at the break. Niall Murphy added a third goal shortly after the break to double Mervue's advantage before Westport pulled a goal back to make it a nervous finish to the game. With Wesport applying late pressure Mervue goalkeeper Cian Mulryan and his back four of Chris Collins , Hakem Ryan, Wilson Waweru and man of the match Laza Kanza were all excellent in defence as they cut out attack after attack. Ronan Manning had the ball in the net in the final minute as he headed home a free-kick from Waweru for what he thought was his hat-trick but the offside flag ruled that effort out. But in the end they had done enough as Damien Brennan and Rynal Browne's young side had captured a first Under 12 Connacht Cup for the club since 2005.
Mervue Utd's Youth team completed the provincial double the following day (Sunday 6th May) as they retained the Connacht Youth Cup after a 5-0 defeat of neighbours Renmore at Abbeycarton in Longford. Justin Neary and Colin Nolin's side got off to a flying start as they scored three times in the opening half as Thomas Gleesen scored twice and Conor Byrne also got on the score sheet as they led 3-0 at the break. That lead was increased just after the interval as Richard Fahy headed home goal number four following a corner kick and sub Ryan Manning completed the scoring with two minutes remaining after an excellent run from Luke Tully set him up for 5-0. The win ended a great weekend for the club as both the Connacht Cups returned to Fahy's Field and both the Manning brothers, Ryan and Ronan, also scored in both finals. After the game Mervue captain Dylan Thornton accepted the Connacht Youth Cup for the second successive year for the club and a tenth provincial Youth title.
The club's under 15 side captured the Premier Division League title with a comprehensive 6-1 away win over third placed Knocknacarra at Cappagh Park earlier this month. Robert Carroll got the ball rolling as he headed home from a corner kick and Conor Melody and Kevin Mitchell added further goals, while top scorer Andrew Connolly claimed the match ball with an excellent hat-trick as Colin Conneely's side secured the three points needed to claim the league title with a game still remaining. They were presented with the Jim Murphy Under 15 Cup having won ten of their twelve games after their last game against Salthill Devon on Wednesday 9th May in Drom when Galway FA representative Donie Farragher presented captain Conor Melody with the cup.
The club's Under 16 team also secured the Premier Division League title with a comfortable 4-0 win over second place Corofin Utd at Fahy's Field also earlier this month. They took the lead through an own goal before top scorer Andrew Connolly lobbed the visiting keeper to double the home team's advantage for 2-0. Man of the match Connolly scored his second of the evening when he headed home a Ryan Manning cross for 3-0 and goalkeeper Peter Healy completed the scoring when he dispatched a penalty for the final score. Ollie Neary and Paul Moynihan's side collected the league title having won all ten league games and only conceding three goals while scoring 44 goals in those ten unbeaten games. They also have a League and Cup double on the cards as they defeated Salthill Devon on Tuesday night to advance to the Premier Cup final after goals from Conor Melody and Andrew Connolly saw the game finish 2-2 after extra time and onto the dreaded penalty shootout. Goalkeeper Peter Healy was once again the Mervue hero in the shootout as he saved two of the Salthill penalties as Conor Melody, Mikey Fox, Ryan Manning and Andrew Connolly all converted their spot kicks to see the home side through to the final against Corofin Utd on Thursday 24th May in Terryland Park.
Welcome to the first edition of Youth focus for 2012. January has been a particularly busy month for some of the older age groups. At Youth level our U-18's have reached the last 16 of both the Connacht Youth Cup and F.A.I. Youth Cup competitions.
Ryan Manning and Thomas Gleeson were the goalscorers in two competitive and entertaining games played recently against Knocknacarra (3-0),and Salthill Devon (2-0) in the F.A.I. Youth Cup.
At U-17 level we have reached the Quarter finals of the F.A.I. U-17 National Cup following an exciting clash with Limerick side Herbertstown, in a game played at the superb Astro turf facility at Aisling Annacotty last Sunday. After going behind to an early goal the Mervue players responded well with goals from Ryan Manning and Richard Fahy to take a 2-1 interval advantage.
However Herbertstown started the second half with the same intensity as their first half intro and were rewarded after ten minutes with a spectacular equaliser. From there on neither side gave an inch as the game swung from end to end with near misses and some ferocious defending denying either side a clear advantage.Extra time beckoned followed by the dreaded penalty shootout. Mervues' replacement keeper Peter Healy who had only entered the game at the end of normal time for the injured Gary Farrell proved to be the hero saving three penalties. Dylan Thornton, John Rhattigan, Thomas Gleeson and Ryan Manning despatched their penalties with aplomb to send their side through to the National quarter final.
Our U-16 team are Dublin bound on Sunday 12th of February to take on North Dublin Schoolboys outfit Swords Celtic in the last 32 of the S.F.A.I. Barry Cup. Having already reached the quarter final of the Connacht Youth cup following an impressive 4-0 victory over Conn Rangers two weeks ago the management team of Paul Moynihan and Ollie Neary will be hoping that their side can advance where a home tie awaits the winners in the next round.
This Sunday (5th February) sees our U-15 team head to the capital to meet D.D.S.L. side Malahide United in what promises to be an intriguing clash in the last 32 of the S.F.A.I. Evans Cup U-15. Managers Colin Conneely and Derek Lally will be expecting big performances from Robert Carroll, Conor Melody, Shane Gillespie, Bobby Keane, Andrew Connolly, Marcin Sydrow and Dylan Maloney as they look to advance to the last sixteen. Kick off time for this game is 2pm. Best of luck to the lads.
Stephen Lally, the club's youth development officer, had a meeting with all the club coaches from ages 5 to under 18 and it was agreed by all in attendance that we need to focus on player development. All coaches attended the Coerver Coaching introductory course at the end of August.
Stephen agreed to put on three workshops for the Roots Academy coaches and three workshops for youth team coaches during the season and that all coaches would improve their coaching badges by attending FAI courses through coach education.
Roots Academy coaches had two workshops the first held in September and the second held in January and our youth coaches had their first workshop in November. It was agreed that if we get better coaches it will develop better players and our club teams will benefit as a result.
All teams still have a lot to play for in their respective leagues. We would like to wish the U16, U17, U18's club teams the best of luck in Irish cups. The U12, U16, U18's in the Connacht cups and the U14 team in the Connacht shield. The U7, U8, U9, U10, U11's are all playing in their development leagues and making great strides.
The club would like to congratulate Rynal Browne, Colie Kelly and Gary O`Connor who all attended the youth cert, Benny Fahy who completed his Kick Start 1 and 2 badges and Ger Mc Grath, Ger Aberton, Sean Griffin and Mitch Grealish who completed their Kick Start 1 badge.
Youth Development Officer