The Waterford District League will try and win the FAI Youth Inter League Cup for the first time since 1995 when they play the Wexford Football League in Ozier Park this Saturday (kick-off 3pm).
It has been a long road to the decider for both leagues, full of twists and turns, ups and downs and stories of have and have-nots.
Waterford are managed by Anthony Brown, the loyal Johnville clubman and Munster Under 17 coach. He is ably assisted by Jim “Dukie” Whelan and Paddy Ryan. Wexford are managed by the colourful and sometimes outspoken millionaire builder Mick Wallace.
Both sides have multi-talented players and the old Waterford venue should see a classic game of football between two superb outfits. Waterford and Wexford have each won the competition on three occasions. Waterford finished runners-up in 1992 while Wexford were beaten finalists on two occasions, 1998 and 2001.
Waterford were successful in 1986, 1993 and 1995. Wexford, apart from that final defeat in 2001, have enjoyed wonderful final victories in 2000, 2005 and 2007.
How They Got There
Waterford finished second in their qualifying group. They began their campaign by beating Clare 4-0 in Ozier Park. Kerry were the next visitors to the Ballytruckle venue and were also hammered 4-0 by Anthony Brown’s boys.
A trip to Cork followed but three late goals (two in injury time) gave the Leesiders the points. As runners-up in the group, Waterford had to make the long journey to Inishowen for the first knock-out game and they recorded a fine 2-1 victory.
It was back to Ozier Park for the next match and the Waterford outfit totally outclassed the Dublin AUL 5-0 in stunning fashion. The squad were on the road (a long road) once again in the semi-final, travelling to Donegal, and as expected they faced a very tough game. However, following a 1-1 draw after extra time they came out 5-4 winners in a penalty shoot-out. Goalkeeper Kevin Burns saved a penalty and he also scored a penalty, as did Mitchel Casey, Gavin Falconer, Eddie Barrett and Paul Carey. The latter was in fact the player who equalised early in the second half after Donegal had taken the lead after 32 minutes.
The Wexford Football League have also had a roller coaster ride to Sundays final. They opened up their campaign by defeating the Combined Counties (Offaly, Westmeath, Laois) 3-1 at home, having been trailing 1-0 with only 10 minutes remaining.
They drew their next match 1-1 with the Wicklow League away and again they were losing with just minutes to go. Next up for Mick Wallace’s outfit was Kilkenny and they won that game comfortably enough, 3-1 with home advantage.
They received a bye in the next round and then they had to face South Tipperary in the quarter-final. At half-time they were behind 2-0 and all seemed lost but they fought back to level the game 3-3 and eventually won the game 4-1 on penalties.
In the semi final in Ferrycarrig Park they defeated the Cork League 1-0. Their top players are strikers Shane Dempsey and Danny Furlong. Dempsey was capped in the same Under 17 game as Waterford’s Brian Nolan in Buckley Park recently.
He was the player who scored the goal against Cork in the semi-final. Danny Furlong scored in the League of Ireland for Wexford Youths two weeks ago as they defeated Monaghan United.
The captain of the Wexford Football League team is goalkeeper Pa Doyle. He is been watched and trailed by a number of cross-channel clubs, including Ipswich Town.
Previous Waterford Wins
Tommy Kavanagh creates history
As already stated the Waterford and District League have won the FAI Youth Inter-League Cup on three occasions. Tommy Kavanagh was the manager of the first Waterford team to win in 1986. Tommy was assisted by Pat O’Brien.
The Waterford team was as follows: Declan Dineen (Glass), Kevin Sutton, Captain (Johnville), Ian Sheehan (Carrick United), Liam Wells (Carrick United, the present manager of the FAI Junior Cup finalists), Alan Kelly (Carrick United), Sean Walsh (Dungarvan United), Derek Wyse (Southend United), Pat Fitzgerald (Carrick United), Gareth McNamara (Carrick United), Eddie Power (Glass), Pat Arrigan (Glass).
The reserves were Liam Daniels (Johnville), Alan Sullivan (Johnville), Billy Walsh (Southend United), Michael Lee (Southend United), Paul McCarthy (Johnville), Owen Mansfield and Kealon O’Neill (both Dungarvan United).
Galway provided the opposition in Ozier Park and the final score was 2-0. Pat Arrigan scored the two Waterford goals. Tommy Kav’, or “TK” as he is known as in football circles, will always be remembered as the first ever Waterford man to bring the FAI Youth Inter-League Cup to Waterford.
Paul Power brings second title
Tramore’s Paul “Witchy” Power (pictured), who went on to become Waterford United manager, was the next man to guide Waterford to National Youth Cup glory in 1993. The previous year they had lost to the DDSL from Dublin.
The final was against the Limerick District League and the game was played at the home ground of Pike Rovers. The game finished 1-1 after extra time. Waterford won the penalty shoot-out 2-1 thanks to goals from Jason Bowman and Brian Farrell. Goalkeeper Paul Flynn, who was later to become an All Star hurler with Waterford, saved 3 Limerick penalties in the shoot-out.
The Waterford team that day was: Paul Flynn (Bohs), Brian Farrell (Johnville), Pat Harnan (Bohs), Michael O’Donoghue (Tramore), Dessie Purcell (Johnville), Darren Kavanagh (Johnville), Declan Power (Tramore) Mark Hyslop (Dungarvan United), Timmy Kiely (Dungarvan United), Keith Hennessy (Tramore), Jason Bowman, Captain (Tramore). Ray Foley (Bohs) missed the final because of injury. Keith Hennessy was the player who equalised for Waterford in normal time after Limerick had taken the lead. John “Chilli” Power of Johnville played right up until the final but missed out due to personal reasons. Kevin Roche was the assistant manager to Paul Power.
Kealon O’Neill makes it number 3
Kealon O’Neill, who was the reserve goalkeeper on the 1986 winning team, was the manager of the Waterford League team which captured the cup for the third time in 1995.
The final was in Millbush Park and the Mayo League failed to take advantage of playing on their own patch because the Waterford League won 2-0 thanks to two fine goals from the Southend United player Pat McCarthy.
The team was as follows: Derek Hearne (Crystal), Craig Maher (Southend United), Aidan Landers (Dungarvan United), Brian Grace (Carrick United), Robbie Walsh (Southend United), Derek Jordan (Johnville), Richie Kennedy (Carrick United), Mark Hyslop (Dungarvan United), David Whittle (Bohs), Pat McCarthy (Southend United), Eric O’Connor (Johnville). The subs were: John Mercer (Villa), Robert Flynn (Villa), Robert Mullally (Ferrybank), Glen Arrigan (Railway Athletic), Colin Walsh (Dungarvan United). Liam Maher (Bohs) missed the final due to injury.
The game took place on March 26th, 1995, and that date will go down in history in Irish football because the referee was a woman from Galway, Marie Lawton. She became the ever female to officiate at a cup final organised by the FAI.
Just for the record Pat McCarthy scored his goals on 36 and 72 minutes.