Longford will play host to the Connacht Cup and Shield finals for the very first time this May Bank Holiday weekend at the Shane Brennan Memorial Pitch in Abbeycartron.
To add to the suspense building for the popular under-age soccer tournaments, two Longford teams have qualified for the finals.
“This is the first time that we’ve been able to facilitate these finals,” said Séan Dempsey, PRO with Longford and District Schoolboys/girls Soccer League.
“We are delighted to have two Longford teams involved over the weekend,” he said, referring to the fact that Melview U16 and Ballyboro U14 will play the Shield finals.
The manager of the Melview U16 team is Jim Hanley, chairman of Longford Town with Longford Town FC player, Alan Kirby doing the coaching. The only defeat this talented squad suffered all season was at the last 16 stage of the SFAI Cup.
Ballyboro’s U14 team, managed by John Tynan, boast a strong squad with a number of Longford players from the Kennedy cup involved with the Lanesboro-based side.
Next weekend a total of eight finals will take place over the course of the Saturday (May 5) and Sunday (May 6) and each day will kick-off at 12 noon.
“We are expecting 16 teams, each with a squad of 15 and a number of supporters. So it will be quite a big day for us,” said Mr Dempsey proudly. “We are thankful to the Shane Brennan Memorial Pitch, which opened last year, for the fact that we can facilitate this event.”
Over the weekend, teams will arrive into Longford from across Connacht. Galway’s Mervue and Salthill are amongst the favourites for the title, with strong competition expected from Westport and Athlone’s Willow Park.
“We are delighted to say that all the Connacht Cup and Shield finals will be refereed by local referees,” said Mr Dempsey, who explained: “The Shield is for teams who are eliminated from the first round of the Cup competition. It gives them (the team) an extra game and greater participation. These teams have been playing since September 2011.”
Looking forward to the weekend ahead, Mr Dempsey is calling on all with an interest in soccer to come out and support Abbeycartron’s inaugural provincial finals.
“This is of great benefit to us and we are very proud of it,” he said. “It’s not very often that these young lads get to play in provincial finals so we hope that everyone comes out and supports them.”
In addition, the Shane Brennan Memorial Pitch will play host to the seven-a-side league finals on Monday May 7 next.