This is the first article I have EVER written. The opportunity to do this came courtesy of The LOI Blog (see the original article here) and it was an honour to attend this event and interview the Chief Executive of the FAI, John Delaney. I have to admit, I was nervous meeting the man, as you hear so many things about such a high-profile figure. However, I found him to be very pleasant and he was more than happy to give little old me the time of day after having a chat with some top sports journalists who also attended. John even praised my efforts after our interview, which was pretty cool.
I hope you enjoy the article and interview. I am open to any feedback you may have.
St. Kevin’s Boys Club today launched their annual Academy Cup Tournament in The Skylon Hotel, Drumcondra. In attendance were FAI Chief Executive John Delaney along with Former Republic of Ireland International player and manager John Giles and board members of St.Kevin’s.
The tournament has become a staple for St. Kevin’s since 2009 when the inaugural event was set up to celebrate their 50th Anniversary. This year has promised to be the best tournament organised by the club as the club host prestigious clubs like Real Madrid and Ajax from the 18th – 20th April. They will be joined by current holders of the Academy Cup, Celtic, two-time winners, Arsenal, and last year’s runners-up, West Bromwich Albion.
Speaking at the launch, Ken Donohoe, Director of Football at St. Kevin’s, commented on the progression of the tournament and what it meant to the club. “We started it off (Academy Cup) on a low key basis and each year since then, we have raised the bar in terms of attracting better teams, raising the standard of play and giving an opportunity to young boys in our club to sample and pit themselves against the best that we can attract to this tournament,” said Donohoe.
Donohoe also expressed the ambition that St. Kevin’s hold for this tournament and making it one of the best schoolboy tournaments not just in Ireland but Europe. “Through our efforts over the weekend, we hope to make this the best and most exciting schoolboy tournament that has ever been run in this country. We also have to justify ourselves to the likes of Real Madrid and Ajax and show them that they are not coming to compete in a two-bit tournament in Ireland and that they are coming to a tournament that can compete with the best of the tournaments that they’ve played in throughout Europe,” commented Donohoe
John Giles praised the efforts of St. Kevin’s in hosting such a prominent schoolboys tournament. “When I was a kid playing football there was none of this. I had to wait until I played in the European competitions to play against these teams. I think it is great, the progress that schoolboy football has made. When I was playing back in the 40’s and 50’s there were only two teams with their own ground.”
Giles went on to praise the progression of the club and its resources in Whitehall. “The facilities that St. Kevin’s have there are absolutely brilliant. It is a credit to the people who run the club and it’s a credit to the schoolboy game. It’s great to see the progress that has come over the years,” continued Giles.
FAI CEO, John Delaney, was delighted with the level of football that would be coming to Dublin this April. “It these types of tournaments that allow the best play against the best and when the best play against the best, you can improve yourself.”
Delaney also went on to praise St. Kevin’s for organising the tournament and ranked them as one of the best schoolboy clubs in the country. “I have to compliment the club. They are always thinking of the next step forward,” said Delaney.
The tournament should be a great spectacle of youth football and it will hopefully give fans a look at the future of Irish football, as well as International football. You never know, there may just be a future Damien Duff or Liam Brady among the ranks lining up for St. Kevin’s against Real Madrid or West Brom come April.
SKB Academy Cup 2014
Group 1: St. Kevin’s, West Brom, Real Madrid
Group 2: Ajax, Celtic, Arsenal
Friday April 18th
Game 1 – 10:30am St. Kevin’s V West Brom
Game 2 – 12:00pm Ajax V Celtic
Game 3 – 4:30pm West Brom V Real Madrid
Game 4 – 6:00pm Ajax V Arsenal
Saturday April 19th
Game 5 – 10:30am Arsenal V Celtic
Game 6 – 12:00pm St. Kevin’s V Real Madrid
Game 7 – 4:30pm Winner Group 1 V Runner-Up Group 2
Game 8 – 6:00pm Winner Group 2 V Runner-Up Group 1
Sunday April 20th
Game 9 – 10:00am 5th/6th Play-Off: 3rd place Group 1 V 3rd place Group 2
Game 10 – 12:00pm 3rd/4th Play-Off
Game 11 – 1:30pm Tournament Final
Games 1-10 are 50 minutes – 25mins each way
Games 11 is 60 minutes – 30mins each way
Presentation of prizes takes place at 3:00pm
Full tournament details on www.skbfc.com