Saturday will be an historic day for Clare soccer as, for the first time, three teams will represent Clare schoolboys/girls in national finals.

The University of Limerick is the venue for the National finals and Clare teams will be in action at 1.50pm., 4pm. and 6pm.

Both boys teams will face South Belfast in their finals while Sligo/Leitrim will provide the opposition for the Clare girls in their final

Under 14:

Shannon Town’s David Hogan will manage the boys under 14 squad and he is joined in the backroom team by Davy Ryan from Newmarket Celtic, Kieran Connolly from Kildysart and Clare soccer’s full time official Denis Hynes from Ennistymon. The goalkeeping coaches are Fintan Quinn from Bunratty/Cratloe and Johnny Ryan from Newmarket Celtic.

This is the management’s team third year with this twenty nine strong squad which is drawn from eleven clubs. They have rotated the captaincy throughout the campaign. Having suffered a 4-0 loss to Galway on the opening round they bounced back with a 2-0 win over Midlands, victory overs Limerick district by the same margin and they completed the group stage with a 1-0 win over Limerick county. They then received a bye into the national semi-final where they defeated Mayo 4-1.

They will be looking to Iarla Byrne from Burren United; Kaylum Mata from Lifford and Conor Brady from Avenue to lead the way on Saturday.

“We have had two squads for the past two years but we amalgamated into one this year. The Kennedy cup is coming up in June and we are building towards that”, David Hogan told The Clare Echo. “We have bounced back from a heavy first round defeat and we have conceded just one goal since then. We know we are facing a difficult test on Saturday”.

The game kicks off at 1.50p.m.

Under 16:

Well known Avenue United official, John O’Malley is manager of the boys under 16 squad which will take on South Belfast in the National inter league cup decider which will kick off at 4p.m.

“The majority of this squad has been with us since they were under 16. In the Kennedy cup two years ago they won the Bowl”, according to the manager whose backroom team includes Barry Downes and Greg Deegan from Bridge United and Denis Hynes.

Nine clubs are represented in the squad which is captained by Avenue United’s Jason Keane Hayes who hails from Kilmaley. The clubs represented in the squad are St. Pats, Corofin, Avenue United, Bridge United, Newmarket Celtic, Shannon Town, Bunratty/Cratloe, Tulla United and Ennis Town.

On the way to the final Clare beat Kerry (6-1), lost to West Cork in Clonakilty (2-3), beat Cork at home (2-1) and beat Kilkenny away from home in the semi-final (5-1).

In addition to the captain, Clare will be looking to goalkeeper Oisin Tierney from Corofin, Luke Deegan and Gavin Downes from Bridge United and Ryan McCarthy from Ennis Town to lead the way.

“We have no illusions about the difficult task we are facing. We saw South Belfast beat Galway in Terryland Park last week in their semi-final. They are a strong side but we are looking forward to the challenge”, according to manager O’Malley

Under 16 girls:

Shannon’s Donal Magee has spent over 30 years coaching various soccer clubs in Clare and Limerick. In recent years his focus has been on coaching this group of girls who will represent Clare in the National inter league under 16 final on Saturday.

“This is the fourth All-Ireland final in a row for this group. We are up against Sligo-Leitrim, whom we have never played, in this final which kicks off at 6p.m.”, the manager told The Clare Echo this week.

Paul Fitzgerald from Corofin is with Donal in the management team and the side is jointly captained by Maeve Clancy from Fern Celtic and Caragh Fitzgerald from Corofin.

Players from Connolly Celtic, Fern Celtic, Bunratty/Cratloe, Shannon Town, Tulla United and Corofin make up the squad which is also preparing for a Munster final in a few weeks time.

“We won the inaugural under 16 cup two years ago. These girls are brilliant to be with. We have achieved a lot for a small group of players”, according to Donal who says “this will be my last year managing and coaching. I have been coaching for thirty years and it has been most enjoyable”.

The manager is disappointed that “there aren’t more girls playing soccer. I worry about the state of the game. The better girls are playing a lot of sports including camogie and ladies football and there is a lot of demand on their time”.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s final Donal is “hopeful we can bring the title back to Clare. We won the under 15 title last year”, he concluded.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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