Lone Ranger to the rescue

    Darren Murray, Eddie Doyle, David Molloy, Ethan O’Neill, Gary Cody and team manager, Mark Ross

    By Jimmy Rhatigan

    Pics: Donal Foley

    A MEETING to turn the spotlight on our new local League of Ireland proved to be a light fantastic – eventually!

    The Derdimus Park. Kilkenny League HQ get-together of team management, club personnel, parents, members of the Kilkenny & District League Committee and two players was positive, a road back to senior soccer perhaps?

    The project is admirable and ambitious and that some have the courage to battle to fill the void left by Kilkenny City FC who bowed out of the senior game in 2008 is certainly encouraging.

    Ironically, a plan to light the way to the first season of the FAI U15 National League by the newly established Carlow-Kilkenny FC could have been temporarily scuppered when a meeting area was plunged into darkness shortly before the information evening was due to kick-off.

    Local co-operation was highlighted when to the rescue went Fort Rangers player, Tony Moran who was training nearby with his club team.

    After some toing and froing, electrician Tony’s message was let there be light and Carlow-Kilkenny FC’s first official function was on the ball after a fuse problem was remedied.

    If anything, the incident may have fused interest as passionate and obviously committed members of the team’s management and steering committee outlined plans for the project.

    Opponents for the young guns who will play their home games at Derdimus Park and at Vale Wanderers ground in Carlow, will be Cork City, Cobh Ramblers, Limerick, Galway, Waterford, Wexford and Kerry Schoolboys’ League.

    Optimism is the name of the game. Excited was the mood in the room and development of players was noted as key as the local squad of 19 edged towards their first pre-season workout.

    The squad is made up of nine Carlow players, five Kilkenny players, three from South Tipperary, and one each from the Midlands and Kildare.

    That will leave a vacant chair, a manager’s choice perhaps, for team boss Mark Ross as a suitable player becomes available.

    Planning for the new venture was meticulous, the gathering was told. The squad had 50 members at the start. Slowly but surely, numbers were whittled down to 19.

    Manager Mark who worked with the then manager Shane Keegan at Wexford Youths, has what he describes as a strong backroom team of coaches and mentors.

    Local soccer’s John Corrigan, Tom Mullins, John Joe Campion, Fran Egan and Trevor Spillane are included on the steering committee.

    Involvement is a big commitment from the young players but also means that they will get the opportunity to hone their skills as they play against the best that soccer has to offer at this age group and they will also be constantly monitored by members of the Republic of Ireland under age coaching staff.

    At this stage it would be fair to describe the adventure as a journey into the unknown, although all will be fully aware that opponents will always be top drawer.

    Thumping the ball up the pitch, will be a no, no, Mark Ross assured as he said that the initial concentration would be on an attacking 1-4-3-3 system.

    The season kicks off in mid-March. Home colours are green and yellow, away are red and black. Victory Teamwear will sponsor all kit.

    FAI Regional Development Officer, Darren Murray summed up the level of interest when he lauded the officials of the Carlow and Kilkenny Leagues for working in tandem, for their great co-operation and for their willingness to progress together.

    Early signs are good.

    But what way the cookie crumbles will be most relevant as even for the better prepared, soccer can be a funny old game.

    Summer soccer can bring new ambition to the local game, good preparation for an FAI directive that soccer in the sun will be compulsory from 2020.