The Football Association of Ireland has unveiled details of the first U15 National League which will take place from this August for a shortened season ahead of a full programme in 2018.
The League will be the entry level to elite football on the player pathway that already includes the SSE Airtricity Under 17 League, Under 19 League, First Division and Premier Division.
All 20 of the existing clubs in the SSE Airtricity League will have a team entered with many of them signing development partnerships with the leading schoolboy clubs in the country.
Cabinteely FC’s entry to the League was primarily driven by a desire to consolidate the position of it’s junior clubs and have them gain full access to this level of competition.
Other leading clubs like Mount Merrion with UCD, Corduff United with Shamrock Rovers and St Joseph’s Boys with Bray Wanderers will also play at this level albeit under the cover of their senior partner.
There was a deal of controversy in recent weeks though over the fact that St Kevin’s Boys, traditionally one of the strongest clubs at this level was going to be allowed participate initially under it’s own name.
It was revealed yesterday that they have committed to working closely with Bohemians ahead of the 2018 season though they already have an arrangement in place with a collection of North Dublin Boys teams including Home Farm.
The North Dublin Schoolboys and Schoolgirls league has called for an urgent meeting with Bohemians to clarify this.
Regardless of how that works out the new League will provide a clearer pathway for young talent coming through into the sport.
“Having the Under 15 League in place further develops the pathway to elite football for the country’s most talented footballers,” said FAI High Performance Director Ruud Dokter.
“This now means that the very best Under 15 players throughout the country will now play against the highest quality opposition, thus enhancing their development as they progress to top level senior football.”
“I would like to congratulate each of the schoolboy clubs and Leagues who successfully applied to forge partnerships with SSE Airtricity League clubs.
“I would also like to thank those who have been unsuccessful in their applications. The Working Group will continue to be available to work with these clubs on their future development plans.”
In addition to the 20 existing SSE Airtricity League clubs and St Kevin’s Boys for now, the U15 League will be made up of three schoolboy Leagues, the Kerry Schoolboys League, Mayo League, and Monaghan/Cavan Partnership. In each case they are succesful Leagues but without a nearby top flight club to align to, at least for now.
The truncated season will consist of four groups of six teams and the fixture list will be released ahead of the official League launch next month.
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