*Kennedy Cup manager, Davy Wall addressing members of the squad.
Clare’s Kennedy Cup manager is hopeful the prestigious schoolboys soccer tournament will be played late this year or into 2021.
Having initially announced the cancellation of the 2020 Kennedy Cup, the Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland (SFAI) appeared to row back on their decision and released a follow-up statement declaring “we will examine all avenues that might allow the 2020 version go ahead at an alternative date,” should the health of the nation improved.
Preparations for the June tournament began in August, a squad of 29 was finalised for the Emerging Talent Programme and over the passing months they conducted 34 training sessions. Clare’s squad followed suit with their sporting counterparts all over the country by stopping training in March. Away from collective training, players have been encouraged to work on their fitness and ball mastery with challenges also set by the management team.
Manager, Davy Wall expected the announcement from the SFAI but maintained the 2020 Kennedy Cup should proceed when it is safe to do so as opposed to cancelling the tournament. “Everybody wants this to go ahead. Unfortunately it just happened at this time for this age-group, there is nothing we can say or do to change it, it’s just the way it is. The National Cups have been cancelled, some teams were nearly in the quarter-final stages of the National Cup, that has been cancelled. I think it was a bit premature of the SFAI to cancel it so early but they did come back and I think they realise there may be opportunities to get these played”.
“I wouldn’t be confident we’d go in 2020 but there is a big opportunity for them to play in Christmas but definitely in the Easter of next year for this group, a lot of them have been together for three years, not all of them but most of them, they really want to play in the Kennedy Cup,” the Shannon native told The Clare Echo.
Wall waited until confirmation was issued from the SFAI before passing on contacting the parents and panel of players. “I didn’t want to be updating them with stuff I heard off the street and this fella said that or this, that is not the way I work, I had told them we’d wait to hear what the plan was from the SFAI. We messaged the group and we broke it to them that way,” he explained.
Coaching and management has provided great enjoyment for Davy since retiring from his playing days where he lined out as a striker for Newtown FC and Newmarket Celtic. His move into coaching coincided with the establishment of Shannon Hibs, he took charge of their first team for two seasons and then focused on the underage ranks taking the club’s youngest side from when the players were aged four and stayed with them until U12, the highlight being reaching the last sixteen of the SFAI U12 National Cup.
He is also involved with the Limerick academy, Dynamic Coaching and is using the break from Clare training to complete assignments to get his UEFA B coaching licence. His time thus far with the county Kennedy Cup side has been very positive and he is eager the players will get the opportunity to line out in the tournament in the near future.