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Small but perfectly formed – that’s the O’Neill’s Leinster Football League

Super season with tight competition across league and cups with lots of promise for upcoming 19/20 season

THE CONFERENCE ROOM IN Abbotstown was the venue for a fitting finale to the O’Neill’s Leinster Football League 2018/19 season with an impressive haul to trophies handed out to the various winners on the night with a buffet provided in advance of the official trophy presentation.

By EAMON SCOTT

President Tony O’Dowd thanked all the clubs for their efforts over the course of the season – one in which O’Dowd described as a ‘watershed’ season with the president predicting better days ahead for a league which was once the biggest geographic spread of all grassroots leagues under the FAI’s jurisdiction.

President Tony O’Dowd with Ciaran Mitten of Tallaght City, winners of the LFL Sheeran Cup. Photos: Eamon Scott

These days the league is much reduced in numbers but that slimmed down version also affords the league’s executive a perfect opportunity to develop a close relationship with the clubs which was visibly reflected at the end of the evening when each person in attendance took time out – whether with trophy in hand or not – to personally shake hands with every member of the executive.

Paddy McMahon, LFL League secretary with Ciaran Mitten of Tallaght City and the Murphy’s Auld Triangle Lanzarote
William Sheeran Cup at the league’s presentation in Abbotstown on Thursday evening. Photo: Eamon Scott

That show of respect was more than admirable and it was an unsolicited act of respect that was genuinely appreciated by the executive who were represented at the top table by the legendary Charlie O’Leary (Life Vice President), Pat McMahon (Honorary Secretary), Tony O’Dowd, (President), Paul Henderson (Division Secretary), Dave Hearst (Honorary Treasurer) and Patsy Browne (Phoenix Park Supervisor/Referees Co-ordinator).

Ian Farrell of Templeogue United receives the runners up medals from Paddy McMahon of the O’Neills LFL

President O’Dowd thanked each and every club of the league for their support and willingness to facilitate both the executive and opposition when requested to do so and that flexible approach had ensured that clubs benefitted from a smooth running of their league and cup programme.

Tony O’Dowd, a former referee himself, thanked the panel of referees affiliated to the league for their services over the course of the season. “We are blessed with an excellent panel and they are all top class referees and we have a great history of referees from this league going on to officiate at League of Ireland and international level and I’m sure that rich legacy will continue on,” said O’Dowd

The President also name checked Patry Browne for his role as referee’s co-ordinator and the advice and encouragement he provided for the league’s men in black. “Patsy is just first class and his experience and knowledge is invaluable to us as a league but also of immense benefit to the referees to themselves who could not ask for a better mentor.”

One competition that certainly met with popular approval was reserved for the league’s most popular elder statesman, 95-year-old Charlie O’Leary whose cup competition was run on a group stage before reverting to knockout in the latter stages and clubs were universal in supporting that format for the coming season.

The league also announced details of the creation of a Saturday division which is on foot of calls from clubs to reintroduce one and O’Dowd reported that with a couple of new applications already received and the positive indication of current clubs, it looks as if the reintroduction of Saturday football will give the league a new dimension in the coming season.

The league also intend to run an under 19 league and cup competition with that grade also participating in the league’s ‘adult’ cup competitions and out-going league secretary Pat McMahon went on record to thank those who nurtured the under 19 section.

“The LFL Under 19 section has been a huge success,” said McMahon. “It’s a great stepping stone for clubs to make that step from schoolboy into junior football and lots of clubs who have come through schoolboy ranks have used the LFL Under 19 division to great effect and that has been reflected in the under 19s performing very well in open cup competition where they have contested finals and semi-finals.”

Added Tony O’Dowd: “If there are Under 19s out there who would like to join the LFL we can ensure a great welcome and a really competitive season for those who participate. Rather than have teams break up, we can help teams continue their development as a unit and we know from experience that the Under 19s offers great competition for those involved and we’ve had so much encouraging feedback from those who were involved.”

Tony O’Dowd took time to thank Galty Celtic boss Brendan ‘Pecker’ Dempsey who had masterminded the return of the famous Drimnagh based side to the LFL ranks culminating with outright success in the Charlie O’Leary Cup competition with victory over a gallant Castleknock Celtic side at the Transport Club last Friday week.

Dempsey had a long an illustrious history with the league and had represented the LFL at Oscar Traynor level and he had been a player back in the league’s heyday when the likes of Fatima Rangers, St Teresas and Inchicore Athletic were some of the top clubs in grassroots soccer.

The close knit family that is the LFL also showed their benovenent side with a contribution of €1000 to the Sean Cox Fund – a sum made up of contributions from the clubs of the league as well as a donation from the league itself. The initiative was proposed by Brian Kavanagh of Park Orient – one of the LFL’s long standing and respected members -and the league were delighted to support and co-ordinate the initiative.

Divisional manager Paul Henderson spoke to the gathering of the move to FAI.net for player registration and the proposal of a workshop for clubs to explain the system and to provide clubs with a technical support for delivering the scheme. Player registration will be €7 per player with €5 administration going to the league and €2 to the FAI.

Another item which was discussed was that of player insurance and clubs were overall receptive to the idea of a group plan and while no premium was available at this time, the possibility of the LFL joining forces with other league was an option open to them.

A proposal to host a workshop for the FAI.net was mooted for Monday August 12 in the FAI Conference Room n the main building in Abbotstown with a 7.30pm pencilled in. It was also suggested that contact be made with relevant insurance companies and to follow up the FAi.net meeting with an information meeting on the same night in August.

The league also intends to monitor a ‘Golden Boot’ and a ‘Golden Gloves’ award from next season and the introduction of individual ‘WhatsAppp’ groups for each league will ensure that information is updated by clubs on a weekly basis.

The presentation night also witnessed the retirement of league honorary secretary Paddy McMahon after a seven year stint. President Tony O’Dowd thanked McMahon for his contribution to the league in that time and praised his diplomatic skills in ironing out problems using his persuasive skills which all helped to ensure a seamless running of the league’s affairs.

Maynooth Town’s David Ledwith and Tom Hopkins, under 19s LFL league runner’s up.

“We will miss Paddy but he leaves with our best wishes as he moves to new pastures and we would hope that he enjoys good health and happiness in whatever comes his way. I’d also leave the door open if at any time in the future he would like to return, we’d be only to happy to welcome him back with open arms.”

As a farewell gesture and a mark of respect, Tony O’Dowd made a presentation of an specially engraved crystal memento in recognition of the service to the league.

ANY clubs who would like to join the O’Neills Leinster Football League can contact Paul Henderson, incoming league secretary at  league.lfl@gmail.com or  0831277207. The league can also supply new teams with pitches and dressing rooms at their facility in the Phoenix Park. Turn up and play with excellent facilities and match officials provided.

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