The RDYSL coaches and players were in the University of Limerick last week for the Kennedy Cup where we learned that football can be a cruel sport and that there can never be enough food for twenty fourteen-year-olds.
I had been working with this talented group of U-14s for the last eight months after tireless manager Stephen Murphy and talented coach Andy Thubron had invited me on board.
The work that goes on behind the scenes to prepare a team for the Kennedy Cup has to be seen to be believed and both coaching staff and players owe a debt of gratitude to Paul Green as well as parents and guardians for their support.
The Kennedy Cup was a steep learning curve for players and coaches alike but the lads equipped themselves well despite coming home empty-handed.
Having entered the tournament as the bottom seeds, it was always going to be a tough ask for the Roscommon & District players to qualify for the Kennedy Cup knockout stages proper, and so it proved.
They started on Tuesday with an unfortunate 3-2 defeat at the hands of Limerick District.
On Wednesday, the RDYSL boys went down 4-0 to North Dublin before a harsh 2-0 defeat against West Cork. Both teams were slightly flattered by the respective scorelines and RDYSL had to lift themselves for a Trophy Quarter-Final match against fierce local rivals Athlone on Thursday morning.
Athlone were favourites for that match but the Roscommon & District lads put in a dogged performance and prevailed on penalties thanks to goalkeeper Seán Kelly’s theatrics and acrobatics and the fact that each of the RDYSL lads converted their spot kicks.
Suddenly we found ourselves in the last four of the fourth tier competition and with a great chance of becoming the first ever RDYSL side to take home some silverware.
Alas, the footballing Gods can be cruel, and despite playing some terrific football and dominating Friday’s semi-final from start to finish, RDYSL went down 1-0 to West Waterford East Cork. A tough defeat to take but the team can take tremendous heart from the performance.
RDYSL’s tournament concluded with the pretty meaningless 27th/28th play-off match against Limerick Desmond, which was a damp squib as both teams struggled to lift themselves. A 1-0 defeat and 28th position out of 32 certainly doesn’t do justice to some of the football on show throughout the tournament.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable year and while results didn’t go our way in the end, manager and coaches are very proud of this hard-working group.