U19 season starts
|Wednesday, 15 August 2012 14:29|
Rovers' under 19's kick off the 2012/13 Under 19 Airtricity League Elite Division this Sunday.
It seems like only last week that the Shamrock Rovers Under-19 Class of 2011/12 were collecting their Elite Division Runners-Up medals at Tallaght Stadium. Well, now their successors are about to kick off the 2012/13 season in the hope of going one better.
When this year's group of players reported for pre-season training on June 25th, there was great excitement as the squad was unveiled for the first time and everyone got to meet their new colleagues. For some, it was a renewal of acquaintances as they had previously crossed swords at underage level. For others, it was a return to familiar surroundings as they begin their second season with the Hoops.
Manager Declan Hevey has put together a much younger group of players this season, with the squad littered with 16 year olds. This approach means that the club will have time to develop these players over a couple of years and not have to totally re-build again next year. Returning from last season are James Mullaney, Kelvin Jackson and Dean Ebbe. This trio will be viewed as old heads and their experience at this level will be invaluable to the group as the season progresses.
The League starts this Sunday August 19th with the short trip to The Belfield Bowl to take on UCD. This is followed by two home games when Shelbourne and Drogheda United respectively will visit Tallaght Stadium on the next two Saturdays.
"We're very much looking forward to kicking off the League campaign after a very busy pre-season schedule", explains Hevey. "We've worked hard to bring in an exciting and talented group of players for the new season. The age profile of the squad is a lot lower than usual. This is by design as we see this group as a two year project. This year we will develop the players while hoping to challenge at the top. I would see Waterford United as being the red-hot favourites for the Elite Division title this year as they have kept most of their squad together from last season. We will be looking to push them all the way."
"We try to provide our players with the very best facilities and conditions in which to work and thrive. We run things exactly the same way that the first team run their set-up so that, if and when any of our players step up to train with them, it's not a culture shock. It takes a certain type of player to play for Shamrock Rovers and we feel we have struck the right balance with this squad. We're back in Tallaght Stadium this season and hopefully that will encourage the fans along to our games. Rovers fans have always been very good to us in showing their support and we're hopeful that will continue this season. It's always a great boost for our young players to be playing in front of a big crowd in the best stadium in the country."
With the Leinster Senior Cup Final still to come, there is time for some of the young players to stake a claim for a coveted shirt on the day. Stephen Kenny has shown along the way that he is not afraid to blood the youngsters in this competition so hopefully some of the new boys can take inspiration from seeing the likes of Lorcan Shannon, Seán Gannon and Dean Ebbe all getting their opportunity and, perhaps push for a place in the Cup Final squad.
This is certain to be an exciting year for the Under-19's as they embark on their journey of development that will hopefully see a new generation of players make their way through the ranks and on into the first team over the next couple of years.
If you have never been to see the Under-19's before then you should make it a priority this season as these games are never short of passion and skill. All fixtures are available on the Club website (click here) as will match previews and reports along with the official Club Facebook page and Twitter feed on a weekly basis.