The 2019 Waterford Kennedy Cup squad.
The time for the talking is nearly over and it’s time for the Kennedy Cup Class of 2019 to step forward to see if they can end a 16-year famine since the Waterford Schoolboy League last landed the famed competition when defeating the Kerry League back in 2003.
A lot of good Waterford teams have come and gone since then with the last final appearance coming back in 2014 when a side captained by Manchester United’s Lee O’Connor lost out to the DDSL League 2-1, while the league also lost the final in 2005 when Conor Clifford scored the winner for the DDSL in a 1-0 loss.
There’s no doubting that this Waterford squad of 20 players that will make the trip to the UL on Monday next, with the tournament starting the day after, will be hoping that they can challenge for cup honours come the end of the week, but eyes are firmly focussed on the opening game.
As the Republic of Ireland are in action against Gibraltar in a World Cup qualifier at the Aviva Stadium on the Monday, it now means that the Kennedy Cup will run from Tuesday to Saturday, with the finals set to be played on the Saturday afternoon, with many hoping Waterford will be still involved.
There has been a lot of talk since the draw was made in March that the Waterford League have received one of their easiest groups in recent times and while it does look appealing on paper, manager Derek Browne and his backroom team will be taking nothing for granted.
It maybe group one, but it will be labelled group W. Waterford, West Waterford East Cork, Wicklow and Wexford make up the format of the group. Wexford will be favourites on standings to top the group, but you couldn’t be more optimistic as a Waterford supporter that this is a winnable group.
The first game against West Waterford East Cork is a vital game for these young players as they taste the experience of the Kennedy Cup for the first time and it’s this game in recent times for other squads that has proved to be the downfall.
It goes without saying really, without taking anything for granted, that Waterford will really fancy their chances of winning this game, but this is a game that their opponents will be bulling to win. It’s also an important game for team manager Derek Browne considering his closeness to the West Waterford camp.
I would be shocked however if Waterford weren’t to put their best foot forward in this game that will be sure to set them up nicely for the two tough assignments that they’ll face on Wednesday when facing Wicklow in their second game before the final game, which is expected to be a group decider against Wexford.
FULL OF POTENTIAL
The Kennedy Cup undoubtedly brings it’s own degree of pressure for the players as it’s one of the biggest competitions with many of the players hopefully going onto bigger things, while other will play representation football for their county possibly for the last time pending on moves to the League of Ireland.
As Waterford continue to prepare for their opening game, it has to be said that they have a squad that is full of talent and the opening team selection from manager Browne will be a tough one. He has leaders in abundance in his squad and he’ll be hoping that these players can bring club form into the tournament.
In recent years Waterford have failed to reach great heights in the tournament and have failed to qualify for the latter stages of the competition since that final appearance back in 2014, but there is an opportunity here for the players of 2019 to make their mark.
It’s also imperative that the Waterford supporters get behind the team from the opening whistle and I suppose from experience, parents should be ready for the highs and lows of tournament football. I haven’t watched the Kennedy Cup squad this year as is my tradition, but let’s hope these players fulfil their potential and enjoy the experience that Limerick has to offer. We wish you all the very best and we’ll be there as always to support you.
KENNEDY CUP FIXTURES
Tuesday, June 11
Waterford League v WWEC League 4pm Pitch 2
Wednesday, June 12
Wicklow League v Waterford League 10.30am Pitch 7
Waterford League v Wexford League 4pm Pitch 5