AMATEUR Representative football returns Wednesday evening with the meeting of the FAI Amateurs and the Universities and Colleges at Whitehall, kick-off 7pm.
It’s a welcome opportunity for both Gerry Davis (FAI Amateurs Head Coach) and Greg Yelverton (Colleges & Unis Head Coach) to bring in squads and kick off their respective programmes – both of which have been in cold storage as a result of Covid-19 and the global pandemic in recent seasons.
By EAMON SCOTT
The Amateurs missed out of a UEFA Regions Cup campaign while the Colleges and Universities international programmes were also shelved and the return for both will be welcome with the goal of leading to full engagement with respective international programmes.
The AUL Complex was the venue last Saturday for an Amateurs’ training session while the Colleges and Universities will gather in advance of the Wednesday’s kick-off for a session to put a shape and understanding on their game plan.
Preparations, admittedly, have been challenging for both squads and trying to find a window of opportunity to meet and train has been equally frustrating, and, ideally, both coaches would have liked more preparation but with neither side gaining any significant advantage in terms of the build-up, it simply adds to the intrigue of what type of game will unfold under the lights at Whitehall.
But both sides have quality and previous outings have invariably produced encounters of decent quality. It remains to be seen if Storm Barra has any impact on proceedings and the hope is that the strength of the wind will have subsided sufficiently to allow for a decent match to unfold.
Rockmount netminder Brendan O’Connell is current captain of the Amateur side and along with Jimmy Carr of St Michael’s AFC in Tipperary are the two most experienced players – and both UEFA Regions Cup winners in 2015 – while Carr will come up against a former protege and Saints team mate in Willie Armshaw who is now with first division Treaty United.
Diminutive Armshaw is similar to the wing wizard that is Jimmy Carr and it’s just one of the excellent attractions of the game – both capable of sublime control and also of netting brilliant goal.
Netminder Garry Cunningham of Westport United is also included in the Amateurs squad and he has been in exceptional form for his club side and fully deserving of inclusion in the squad.
Central defender Glen Daly of LSL Champions Malahide United showed up well as did Stephen Chambers of Killester Donnycarney while up front Edenderry Town Shane Stritch, Oliver Bond Celtic’s Jimmy McHugh and Newmarket Celtic’s Eoin Hayes all showed their goal radars were well tuned.
Cork City have recently signed Universities and Colleges netminder Jimmy Corcoran while Colin McCabe is on the books of Drogheda United.
Up front Aaron Dobbs is with Longford Town, wideman Conor Drinan has Cobh Ramblers experience and Sligo Rovers’ Cillian Heaney signing also represented the FAI Schools at international level at Whitehall.
With both sides bringing the cream of their respective platforms into the game you can expect a competitive 90 minutes.
Gerry Davis’ thoughts will also focus on the UEFA Regions Cup draw which takes place in Nyon in Switzerland tomorrow and Wednesday’s game is the opening salvo in what will hopefully lead to another appearance in the final stage of this amateur competition.
There’s a long way to go before that might happen but Wednesday’s outing at Whitehall is the first steps on that journey so the importance of the occasion should not be lost, especially the players who will be out to make an impression.
Previous winners in 2015, the Amateurs strike rate has seen them scale the heady heights to be ranked as the continent’s number one amateur side while there were also appearances in the UEFA Regions Cup Final in Braga in 2013 and in Istanbul in 2019.
That rise up the rankings has been born out of many long year’s fine tuning the approach on the pitch as much as off the pitch and the importance of ensuring that continuity is given the full support of the national association is vitally important as Europe’s top competition for amateurs re-emerges from the enforced hiatus.
The game might be taking place on a cold night in December but there is much riding on it for both coaches and the players will also want to give of their best and put down a marker as to their ability and potential to step up to international grade football.
This might be promoted as a ‘friendly representative’ but expect the protagonists to show a desire and commitment once they don their respective ‘green’ jerseys and to do it proud.
FAI AMATEURS: Brendan O Connell (Rockmount AFC); Gary Cunningham (Westport Utd) Oisin McColgan (Cockhill Celtic), John Gerard McLoughlin (Glengad Utd), Sean Rodgers (Killester Donnycarney), Glen Daly (Malahide Utd), Adam Crowley (Rockmount Fc), Shane Maloney (Lucan Utd), Stephen Chambers (Killester Donnycarney), Jack McMullen (Home Farm FC), Jimmy Carr (St Michaels), Stephen Bradley (Fairview Rangers), Sam Burgess (Killester Donnycarney), Eoin Hayes (Newmarket Celtic), Jimmy McHugh (Oliver Bond Celtic), Eoin Murphy (Rockmount AFC), Shane Stritch (Edenderry Town), Luke Casey (Rockmount FC), Daragh O’Connell (College Corinthians), Nathan Broderick (Rockmount Utd).
IRELAND COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES: Goalkeepers: Jimmy Corcoran (IT Carlow), Colin McCabe (TU Dublin); Defenders: Naythan Coleman (IT Carlow), Daniel Dobbin (TU Dublin), Peter Maguire (IT Sligo), John Tamen (Waterford Institute of Technology), Darryl Walsh (Waterford Institute of Technology) Evan Weir (Maynooth University); Midfielders: James Clarke (Maynooth University), Conor Coughlan (TU Midwest), Darragh Crowley (University College Cork), Anto Dolan (IT Carlow), Daniel McKenna (TU Dublin); Forwards: William Armshaw (TU Midwest), Aaron Dobbs (TU Dublin), Conor Drinan (Munster Technological University), Gary Gannon (IT Sligo), Cillian Heaney (IT Carlow), Regix Madika (Waterford IT)
Friendly fixture details
Wednesday, December 8 | Ireland Amateurs v Ireland College & Universities, Home Farm FC, Whitehall, Dublin, Kick-Off 7pm