Monaghan Town F.C: An Insight

With the new season just under two weeks away, Monaghan Town continue to step up preparations as they look for a positive start to their Monaghan Cavan League Premier Division campaign.

Here, we will take a closer look at the club as they look to build a successful club from senior right down to underage level.

Foundation
Monaghan Town Football Club are a thriving amateur team based in Monaghan Town who play their home games in Belgium Park. The senior team compete in the Monaghan Cavan League, along with a selection of underage teams which compete in the Cavan Monaghan Underage League.

The club were founded in 2005, and currently the chairman is Gordan Forshaw.

First Team

The first team consists of a range of local players who all have had differing careers in the game. Peter McMahon, a recent signing, established a career both north and south of the border. Playing firstly in the Republic, the Monaghan man played with UCD, Drogheda United and Bohemians before playing in the North with clubs such as Portadown, Dungannon Swifts and most recently Glentoran.

There are also players who have had long distinguished careers at Belgium Park with Mark Kelly and Mark Mulhall both key mainstays of the team. Shane Loughran is another with technical ability and proved a very exciting player. Gary Hessin who has signed from Cootehill Harps is a major asset to the team along with Paul Smyth who had a glittering League of Ireland career.

The management team of Darren Smyth, Kevin Smyth, Jimmy Treanor and Alan Ballantine have all been preparing the side for the important opening fixtures, firstly away to Killymooney before home games against both Clones Town and Killylough.

Meanwhile Paul McHugh has been working with the reserve side as they also look for a positive start to league proceedings.

Honours
Capturing the Ulster Cup in 2011 was arguably the pinnacle of success for the club. Only Monaghan Town and Cootehill Harps have managed to triumph in the Ulster Junior Cup.

One of the more successful periods of the club honours-wise resulted in capturing the premier division three times in a row including the 2007/08, 2008/09 and 2009/10 seasons. They most recently claimed the title back in the 2015/16 season. The Premier Cup was claimed in the 2016/17 season along with successes for the reserve sides, winning both Reserve Division in 2016/17, the Reserve Cup twice in 2017/18 and 2018/19.

Andy Capaldi Cup success was also achieved in the 2009/10 season as the Town continued their successes. The League Cup was conquered five times over the years, victorious in 2009/10, 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16. Sean Woods and Co. Monaghan cup successes were also accomplished in the 2013/14 and 2009/10 seasons respectively.

Trophy accumulation hasn’t been the theme over recent years as the seniors look to build a competitive team again after a few seasons of transition, where the club lost as many as ten established first team players.

Youth Set-Up
Juvenile development is central to the overall development of the club. The underage teams are helped by volunteers and coaches alike along with major contributions from both Gordon and Kathleen Forshaw.


There are competitive teams at u-12, u-14 and u15/16s level, with some very talented players being developed throughout the juvenile set-up. The club has had numerous players who have represented the CMUL Emerging Talent teams and Kennedy Cup teams.

Also, the underage structures have involved players who were victorious in the Ulster Community Games and have represented the county throughout different age-group levels. The now famous annual summer camp that takes place in Belgium Park continues to go from strength to strength.

This season has seen history in the making as Monaghan Town have had their very first girls’ team who are competing at U11 level. This has been off the back of the FAI Girls Football programme currently being implemented through great work by John Crudden and Thomas Heffernan. This is certainly a highlight in the club’s history and something which they hope to build on in the coming years.

Involvement

If you would like to get involved as a volunteer, player or coach please get in touch with Kathleen at 086-061 3925.

Killylough F.C: An Insight

With the opening matchday of the Monaghan-Cavan League on the horizon, we’ve decided to do an in-depth look at some of the clubs who will be featuring over the next few weeks.

The first club to feature this week is Killylough F.C. Currently, their manager is Gerry McPhillips and preparations have been ongoing over the last few weeks for the upcoming season.

Formation

Killylough F.C. takes its name from the townland of Killylough in Tydavnet, Co. Monaghan. The club shares the name with the hugely successful Killylough Tug of War Club, and the rapidly expanding Killylough Cycling Club. They play their home games in Tullygoney, Tydavnet, providing football for Tydavnet and surrounding areas.

Formed in 1980, the club battling with limited resources, have acquired all three available cups on numerous occasions in the local Monaghan Cavan League namely the League Cup, the Andy Capaldi Cup and the Sean Woods Cup. Most recently the trophy cabinet has been filled by the 2014 League and Capaldi Cup successes.

Achievements

A trophy haul has included Premier Division victories in both 1991 and 2014. Also, Killylough captured the Capaldi Cup four times over the years in 1991, 2005, 2011 and 2014, combined with League Cup success in 2005, 2012 and 2013. Sean Ward Cup success was also achieved winning the competition back in 2011.

Club

The senior side continue to prepare for their opening game at home to Sporting Ballyjamesduff and will hope to secure an opening three points to ignite their title challenge. Matchday two sees Killylough at home once again, this time to Killymooney before travelling to Belgium Park to face Monaghan Town on matchday three.

Players, coaches and volunteers alike are encouraged to get involved with the club. Underage sides along with the senior set-up are constantly looking for those who are wishing to get involved in football at any capacity. If you would like to get involved, please contact Mark at 086-0660128.

Doyle-Hayes named in exciting under-21 squad

David Wilson reporting for the Sean McCaffrey Foundation.

Jake Doyle-Hayes’ fine form on loan at league two side Cheltenham Town has resulted in the Cavan youngster being included in an impressive under-21 squad for vital European Qualifiers against Armenia and Sweden.

Doyle-Hayes, who joined the Robins from parent club Aston Villa at the start of the season has made four appearances so far helping his side to eighth position just outside the play-offs on goal difference. Previously, Doyle-Hayes spent the latter half of last season at Cambridge United under the tutelage of Colin Calderwood where injury restricted the prodigious talent to just six first team appearances.

Having first appeared for the Villains in a League Cup tie against Wigan Athletic, injuries, managerial changes and heavy investment into the first team squad has forced Doyle-Hayes to search for first team football down the English football league pyramid.

Doyle-Hayes a product of the Emerging Talent programme, first caught the eye as an eleven-year-old first featuring at the Kennedy Cup for a Cavan/Monaghan side two years out of his age-group, before going on to feature at two more Kennedy Cups. Scouts at Manchester United, Chelsea and numerous other clubs were interested but Doyle-Hayes believed his football would be best served at a club with numerous Irish links over the years such as Aston Villa.

Kenny

The appointment of former Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny to the role of international under-21 manager enthused many around the country when appointed last November. Kenny’s experience and expertise gathered around the country in an extensive domestic career has allowed the Tallaght native to have a hand in the production of many young talented Irish prospects over the years such as Daryl Horgan and James McClean.

Kenny prides himself and his players on keeping the ball will no doubt look to Doyle-Hayes’ quality with the ball along with his ability to get up and down the pitch as a box-to-box type midfield player.

Expectation

The Ballyjamesduff native was named in a previous squad for the opening under-21 qualifier opener against Luxembourg but missed out with an injury. Ireland have never qualified for a European under-21 championship but hopes for this squad are high as talents such as Troy Parrott, Michael Obafemi, Caoimhin Kelleher and Aaron Connolly all look to make the breakthrough at top premier League clubs.

Armenia will be the visitors to Tallaght stadium on Friday the 6th of September, where admission is discounted for Ireland season ticketholders, however if you are not a season ticket holder admission is just €5 and free for under-18s. This is a great opportunity for the local public to get out and see the next generation of stars.

The squad will then travel to Sweden for a tough away trip on the following Tuesday before two vital games in October at home to Italy and away to Iceland.

Fine win for partners under 13s over Derry City

Although John Sherlock Park was graced with the presence of former Derry City FC and Celtic FC Legend, Paddy McCourt last Tuesday evening, it was the local Monaghan United / Cavan FP under 13’s who stole the limelight in the end. McCourt was in attendance in his capacity as Director of the Derry City FC Academy as well as mentoring this particular bunch of “Candy-Stripes” prospects. This was the third encounter between these two Ulster outfits in a short period of time, with the score being one a piece in victories, so this was always going to be a close affair. It was the Foyle-siders who started the sharper, fresh from their exploits in the previous weeks Foyle Cup. They should have opened the scoring in the 7th minute after a fluent move involving Calum McCay and Coalain Curran, saw the latter flash a cross into the “Partners” area but Brendan McLaughlin was unable to steer his shot on target when well placed. Within 8 minutes they again carved open the home defence, this time down the left wing where Oisin Harkin drove into the area before picking out Eoghan Scott, but again his effort never troubled Thomas Brady’s goal. After enduring a slow start, the home side began to grow into the match. Ben Tully and Luke Allison began to be more of an influence in midfield which meant that the 2 Matthew’s, Finn and Carolan where receiving more possession upfront for the local side. In the 21st minute Tully threaded a precise pass in behind the Derry defence to allow Caolain Clerkin to race to the bye line. His pull back just eluded Finn’s reach as he drifted to the near post allowing Derry’s P.J. Doherty to clear the ball to the edge of the area where Carolan picked up possession before driving the ball into the bottom corner beyond the reach of Cain Gallagher in the Derry goals. The “Partners” were buoyed by this and extended their lead 4 minutes later when Allison won possession in the centre circle before setting off on a lung bursting run which saw him draw 3 defenders and the keeper towards him as he entered the area before carefully placing his shot in off the base of the far upright. The comfort of the goals allowed the Cavan / Monaghan side to dictate the remainder of the half out with Adam Mullins and Ben Smith a constant threat down the right wing for the “Partners”.

Half-Time: Monaghan United / Cavan FP 2 Derry City FC 0.

The interval probably came at the wrong time for the home team as it disrupted their flow and allowed the visitors time to regroup. This was evident from the restart as Derry pushed forward at every opportunity. These Derry City youngsters have really improved under the guidance of the “Derry Messi” McCourt and they were never going to give up without a fight. Eoghan Scott and Riley FitzPatrick began to dominate proceedings in midfield, moving the ball quickly and always looking for an opportunity to penetrate the “Partners” defence. Luke Povall and Sean McConnell have forged a good understanding in the centre of the “Partners” defence and with the 2 work-horses of Sean Og Teevan and Ben Smith each side of them, sides find it hard to get an opportunity to strike for goal and when Derry did manage they found Brady in tremendous form. The tall keeper saved well from Harkin and Brendan Roe before pushing a dipping shot from Brendan McLaughlin over his crossbar. Jack Coombes-Morris and Conor Burns replaced Finn and Clerkin midway through the half and both had an influence on proceedings. Eventually Derry’s pressure paid off with 15 minutes remaining when a poor clearance was picked up by Curran before he crossed the ball in from the right wing where Harkin coolly stroked the ball home at the far post beyond the stranded Brady’s dive. The “Partners” however created a great chance to extend their lead again in the 74th minute when Mullins drove inside the Derry penalty box but couldn’t find the finish. Allison also saw his effort drift wide of the upright late on. Derry pushed for an equaliser but the young Cavan / Monaghan lads were determined to hold onto this hard earned 3 points.

Full Time: Monaghan United / Cavan FP 2 Derry City FC 1.

Team: Thomas Brady, Ben Smith, Luke Povall, Sean McConnell, Sean Og Teevan, Ben Tully, Adam Mullins, Luke Allison, Matthew Carolan, Matthew Finn and Coalain Clerkin.

Subs: Conor Burns, Daniel Kelly, Thomas Doherty, Eanna Owen Carolan and Jack Coombes-Morris.

Next up is the reverse fixture away to Derry City FC this coming Saturday at 2pm.

Cavan/Monaghan Football Partnership Round-Up 30-07-19

David Wilson reporting for the Sean McCaffrey foundation

The Cavan/Monaghan football partnerships sides were busy over the weekend with all age-groups taking part in competition over the last seven days. Here is a quick round-up on all the sides exploits over the last couple of days.

The under-13 side had a good win at home to Derry City, as they ran out winners by two goals to one on Tuesday night.

MUCFP under-15

Firstly, the MUCFP under-15 side faced Drogheda United in Cootehill this past weekend. The ‘Partners’ believed that there was a great opportunity to earn three points after a positive weeks training. The heat was intense and ball possession would prove to be vital in terms of conserving energy.

The home side started brightly and were rewarded with a terrific finish from Dean Mc Cabe. The first half settled into a pace dictated by the Partnership. The team looked to get the ball down at every opportunity and continued to play exquisite football allowing MUFCP go into the break with their one nil lead still comfortably intact.

A nightmare start greeted the resuming of play in the second half as Drogheda equalised within minutes. A second for the ‘Drogs’ came nearly as quickly as their first and now after comfortably being in front, the ‘Partners’ now had an uphill task to regain the lead.

Cian Brennan showed resilience and class as he equalised 6 minutes later. With the score now at 2-2, the game became physical and aggressive tackles began to fly in. However, the home side never wavered as they stood up to the physical confrontation that was laid down before them.

With the game nearing its conclusion disaster struck for Cavan/Monaghan as United scored with just eight minutes left to allow the away side to snatch all three points. Even though, the match ended in defeat, there were many positives to take out of the game for the team.

MUCFP 2 – Drogheda 3

MUCFP under-17

Monaghan Cavan partnership u17’s went into this weekend’s game against Shelbourne hoping to bounce back after last week’s heavy defeat against Sligo Rovers. Shelbourne were flying high and would prove to be very stiff opposition.

The ‘Partners’ started positively as Nick Palmer went close after five minutes with a good effort from distance. Shels began to dominate the ball but never really threatened the MUCFP ‘keeper until the 35th minute when a cross evaded the defence before dropping at the feet of the Shelbourne striker where he clinically tucked home from six yards.

The second half was much better from Cavan/Monaghan as they acquired the majority of possession. Thomas Galvin who was excellent throughout the game, delivered an excellent free kick in the 65th minute. Skipper Owen Murphy determinedly got on the end of the delivery and buried home much to the delight of the large home support.

The game was now finely balanced with both teams creating half chances to take all three points. A share of the spoils was arguably the fairest of results. This was an encouraging performance from the 17’s on a day when they fielded nine players who are eligible for next season. Longford Town are the next visitors in two weeks’ time to Gortakeegan.

MUCFP 1- Shelbourne 1

MUCFP under-19

The MUCFP U19s travelled to the capital to take on Shelbourne F.C. The last few weeks had provided some indifferent performances for the ‘Partners ‘, however this spirted side started the game brightly with some good periods of quality football.

An evenly poised first half was ended as it remained scoreless at the break. The Partnership started positively and looked to exploit spaces on the counterattack and caused the opposition some nervy moments. Cavan/Monaghan finally got their reward as they took the lead with an expertly taken finish.

Shels got themselves back in the game after the Partnership were caught in possession just outside their penalty area. An attacking onslaught from the Reds now ensued and unfortunately for the ‘Partners’ spirited defensive display they conceded in the last minute of the game to deny them what would have been a deserved point. Football can prove to be a cruel game at times. There were a lot of encouraging signs regardless of the result.

Shelbourne 2 – MUCFP 1

‘The future is bright for Irish football’ – declares Tom Mohan as his under-19 side bow out to glittering Portugal

David Wilson reporting for the Sean McCaffrey foundation.

Soaring temperatures in Yerevan saw thermometers hit 37 degrees Celsius as a talented Ireland side faced not only challenging weather conditions but also an uphill task without captain Lee O’Connor, along with first choice goal-scorer Johnathan Afolabi through suspension.

A supremely talented Portuguese team who are the current holders of the competition provided stiff opposition. A squad stacked with talent, with many players coming through at Portuguese giants Sporting C.P, S.L. Benfica and F.C. Porto, including the highly coveted winger Félix Correia who has just made the move to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

A nervy opening start for Tom Mohan’s men resulted in Portugal dominating the opening exchanges. Correia showed magnificent trickery and footwork whilst Diogo Capitaó, Fábio Vieira and Joáo Mário constantly rotated causing headaches for the Irish defence. However, the ball possession which the Portuguese had for the opening thirty minutes was all in front of an extremely well-drilled Irish defence who were proving difficult to penetrate.

Thirty minutes in, a ball which was played down an inside right position in resulted in holding midfield player Joe Hodge taking down Joáo Mario. Portuguese captain Vitor Ferreira stepped up and made no mistake as he rolled the ball into the corner past stand in skipper Brian Maher.

This seemed to ignite a fire in the Irish team as they began to play forward with a higher tempo.  Three minutes after going behind, Ali Reghba who was leading the line in place of Afolabi did exceptionally well turning the Portuguese defence before dribbling into the box. His cross was deflected out by Portuguese shot-stopper Celton Biai into the path of the on-rushing Barry Coffey whose effort was somehow diverted over the bar by an exceptional block from full-back Costinha.

The resulting corner found its way to Matt Everitt, his composure allowed Kameron Ledwidge to race in behind as he was found with a brilliantly weighted pass. His pull-back from the by-line was dummied firstly by Oisin McEntee before centre-back partner Mark McGuinness thundered the ball against the crossbar and somehow Portugal got away without conceding.

A second water break due to the extreme heat probably came at the wrong time for Ireland as they had taken the initiative pinning the Portuguese in their own half.

Set pieces were another opportunity as McEntee headed over from a Hodge corner. However, the killer second goal came at the worst possible time for Mohan’s men. Correia again danced past some Irish players before feeding the back out to the wide left. A dinked cross trickled along Maher’s crossbar before landing on the head of goal-poacher Goncalo Ramos who had the easiest of finishes.

With Portugal leading by two goals to nil, the opening goal of the second half was going to be crucial. After a steady start to the second half’s proceedings, Ireland began to press higher trying to win the ball back in more advanced areas of the pitch.

Fourteen minutes in ‘keeper Maher bowled out a ball to Hodge who was occupying the holding position in midfield. The Manchester City starlet controlled well, but as he looked to find a teammate he was dispossessed in a crucial part of the pitch. The Seleção who transitioned quickly throughout the game saw winger Joáo Mário feed the ball back to Ramos eleven yards from goal. Ramos finished emphatically, blasting home leaving Maher with no chance.

Three goals behind, this Irish team never once let their heads drop. McEntee who has become one of the leaders of this group dribbled out from defence well at times and looked to develop the play by trying to play through the lines.

Changes were made by both sides, as the Portuguese looked to conserve players for the final whilst the Irish began to tire in the searing heat. Festy Ebosele, Jack James and Conor Grant all looked to impose themselves on the game, whilst under seventeen starlets Andrew Omobamidele and Tyriek Wright offered a fresh impetus with ten minutes to go.

In the last minute of normal time McEntee again sauntered forward before being hacked down 26 yards from goal. Ledwidge’s effort from the resulting free kick was a good one but Celton Biai did well to tip over.

Ramos finally completed his hattrick as he found himself inside the box one on one with McGuinness. The striker faked one way and then the other as his low right footed drive slithered past the clutches of Maher, rounding off a great performance from the Portuguese.

This current crop of Portuguese youngsters showed their class and skill throughout the game in all aspects in both defence and attack. A resounding win was perhaps unfortunate on their Irish counterparts, yet it was clear to see why they were one of the favourites for the competition from the outset.

The current senior European champions have produced endless amounts of precocious talents recently including João Félix, Ruben Dias, Gedson Fernandes and Bruno Fernandes who have all came through the Portuguese underage system.   

A disappointed yet proud Tom Mohan spoke to RTÉ television after the game and offered no excuses. “There’s no excuses, were not in an excuse business”, said Mohan.

Mohan remained positive and upbeat about his players and is excited about the future for Irish football. “We’ll look back on this tournament as a real positive. All the players, staff and myself are all very proud even just to get to the finals.”

“We’ve got to look at the future and we feel the future is bright for Irish football, there’s great work going on at grassroots, national league level and with the international teams.”

“We had a right go at it and we’ll bring great memories home with us. The most important thing for the players is that puts confidence in them.”

Mohan added, “We’re very excited about these players… lads playing at sixteen years of age is phenomenal. Irish football is in a good place and we’ve got to build on experiences like this.”

What is obvious, is that the future for Irish football is bright with many players coming through and competing against the best sides in Europe. This is testament to the work which has been done by coaches all over the country and by Tom Mohan himself along with John Crudden here in our local area over the last number of years.

The Sean McCaffrey foundation would like to congratulate the players, coaches and staff on a magnificent journey and are excited about the prospects for the future.

Partnership Round Up

Cavan/Monaghan Football Partnership Round-Up

David Wilson reporting for the Sean McCaffrey foundation

The Cavan/Monaghan football partnerships sides were busy over the weekend with all age-groups taking part in competition over the last seven days. Here is a quick round-up on all the sides exploits over the last couple of days.

Under-13

Firstly, the impressive MUCFP’s 13’s had their third match within a 7-day period when they entertained a strong and technical Bray Wanderers/St. Joseph’s side on Saturday afternoon in Cootehill. It was the hosts who set the early pace with Matthew Finn rattling the base of the upright with sevenminutes played. Luke Allison’s effort was just off target tenminutes later and Caolain Clerkin’s spectacular half volley from 25 yards beat the keeper but somehow crashed back into play after hitting the woodwork once more.

Bray began to take control as fixture congestion combined with the lack of bodies began to tire the home side. With seven minutes remaining in the first half Bray scored after their clever left winger cut inside and beat Thomas Brady with a dipping shot from just outside the area. 

The second half proved to be a back to the wall’ type effort from the young “Partners”. Bray gave a lesson on how to keep possession. Although Wanderers caused some problems for the tiring Cavan/Monaghan lads they were unable to get that all important second goal. The hosts put up a brilliant rear-guard action, with Brady making several impressive saves. 

To their credit the MUCFP team still managed to create a couple of good opportunities to equalise but the heat and fatigue took its toll as Bray ran out winners by one goal to nil. Next up is a double-header of home and away against old foes Derry City.

Under-15

With the MUCFP U15s wishing to forget the events of the previous week, they travelled to City Calling Stadium in Longford. League of Ireland traditionalists Longford Town were the opponents, in what was a challenging game for the squad. Seventeen players made the journey in which was their biggest squad to pick from yet.

The away started positively, keeping possession and always looking to build the play up from the back. Ten minutes in Tadhg Kellet finished fabulously to put the ‘Partners’ in front. Eight minutes later and the home side drew level. A misplaced pass was capitalised on as ‘De Town’ got back on level terms after a good period of possession from the away side. 

At halftime the management decided to make a couple of changes. Once again, Cavan/Monaghan started brightly, creating several attempts on goal. Firstly, a great effort was pushed away against the upright by the opposition goalkeeper. Secondly, another effort that rattled against the crossbar plustwo further goalline clearances. 

Eventually, the ‘Partners’ got rewarded for their efforts as they were awarded a penalty, which was routinely dispatched by the impressive Sean Reynolds. Now the away side just looked to close out the game, but with 10 minutes left a freekick was awarded 24 yards from the Cavan/Monaghan goal. A magnificent strike resulted in Longford drawing level once again to the disappointment of the away side. This side never gave up and pushed for that all-important winner. However, time ran out and the sides finished level. This was a colossalimprovement on the previous week, but both management and players alike felt like they had dropped an important couple of points.

Under-17

The under-17 side made the long journey to north-west Atlantic coast as they took on Sligo Rovers. Recently, confidence has been growing with some good results which seen the team pick up a point against Derry City, and found themselves unlucky not to take points against Dundalk. However, after a slow start the home side put MUCFP’s on the back foot. They quickly found themselves 2-0 down,conceding two poor goals.

Sligo increased their lead right on half time which left an uphill battle for the young ‘Partners. MUCFP started the second half on the ascendency but were caught on the counteras Rovers cruised into a four-goal lead.

Nick Palmer pulled one back scoring a screamer for the away side with 60 mins gone which finally sparked the team into life. Good goalkeeping combined with poor finishing meant the ‘Partners could not add to their tally and with only five minutes remaining, Sligo tacked on a further 3 goals to make the score line look very convincing. The beauty of football is that there’s always next week to put things right. 

Under-19

The under-19 side faced a tough challenge, also going up against the formidable Sligo Rovers losing by six goals to one. Ben Mullen, the centre-half showed the forwards how to finish as he was the solitary goal scorer for the 19s. The team has some important games ahead, with both the coaching staff along with the players look to improve fortunes. 

The Cavan/Monaghan Football Partnership continue to provide League of Ireland football for the area. The coaches and players alike are improving week in, week out going up against the best local talent in the country. From the under-13s right up to the under-19s, this football partnership is ambitious, keep an eye out as many talented players are starting to come through at all levels.

Cavan/Monaghan Football Partnership Round-Up

David Wilson reporting for the Sean McCaffrey foundation

The Cavan/Monaghan football partnerships sides were busy over the weekend with all age-groups taking part in competition over the last seven days. Here is a quick round-up on all the sides exploits over the last couple of days.

Under-13

Firstly, the impressive MUCFP’s 13’s had their third match within a 7-day period when they entertained a strong and technical Bray Wanderers/St. Joseph’s side on Saturday afternoon in Cootehill. It was the hosts who set the early pace with Matthew Finn rattling the base of the upright with seven minutes played. Luke Allison’s effort was just off target ten minutes later and Caolain Clerkin’s spectacular half volley from 25 yards beat the ‘keeper but somehow crashed back into play after hitting the woodwork once more.

Bray began to take control as fixture congestion combined with the lack of bodies began to tire the home side. With seven minutes remaining in the first half Bray scored after their clever left winger cut inside and beat Thomas Brady with a dipping shot from just outside the area.

The second half proved to be a ‘back to the wall’ type effort from the young “Partners”. Bray gave a lesson on how to keep possession. Although Wanderers caused some problems for the tiring Cavan/Monaghan lads they were unable to get that all important second goal. The hosts put up a brilliant rear-guard action, with Brady making several impressive saves.

To their credit the MUCFP team still managed to create a couple of good opportunities to equalise but the heat and fatigue took its toll as Bray ran out winners by one goal to nil. Next up is a double-header of home and away against old foes Derry City.

Under-15

With the MUCFP U15s wishing to forget the events of the previous week, they travelled to City Calling Stadium in Longford. League of Ireland traditionalists Longford Town were the opponents, in what was a challenging game for the squad. Seventeen players made the journey in which was their biggest squad to pick from yet.

The away started positively, keeping possession and always looking to build the play up from the back. Ten minutes in Tadhg Kellet finished fabulously to put the ‘Partners’ in front. Eight minutes later and the home side drew level. A misplaced pass was capitalised on as ‘De Town’ got back on level terms after a good period of possession from the away side.

At halftime the management decided to make a couple of changes. Once again, Cavan/Monaghan started brightly, creating several attempts on goal. Firstly, a great effort was pushed away against the upright by the opposition goalkeeper. Secondly, another effort that rattled against the crossbar plus two further goal-line clearances.

Eventually, the ‘Partners’ got rewarded for their efforts as they were awarded a penalty, which was routinely dispatched by the impressive Sean Reynolds. Now the away side just looked to close out the game, but with 10 minutes left a free kick was awarded 24 yards from the Cavan/Monaghan goal. A magnificent strike resulted in Longford drawing level once again to the disappointment of the away side. This side never gave up and pushed for that all-important winner. However, time ran out and the sides finished level. This was a colossal improvement on the previous week, but both management and players alike felt like they had dropped an important couple of points.

Under-17

The under-17 side made the long journey to north-west Atlantic coast as they took on Sligo Rovers. Recently, confidence has been growing with some good results which seen the team pick up a point against Derry City, and found themselves unlucky not to take points against Dundalk. However, after a slow start the home side put MUCFP’s on the back foot. They quickly found themselves 2-0 down, conceding two poor goals.

Sligo increased their lead right on half time which left an uphill battle for the young ‘Partners’. MUCFP started the second half on the ascendency but were caught on the counter as Rovers cruised into a four-goal lead.

Nick Palmer pulled one back scoring a screamer for the away side with 60 mins gone which finally sparked the team into life. Good goalkeeping combined with poor finishing meant the ‘Partners’ could not add to their tally and with only five minutes remaining, Sligo tacked on a further 3 goals to make the score line look very convincing. The beauty of football is that there’s always next week to put things right.

Under-19

The under-19 side faced a tough challenge, also going up against the formidable Sligo Rovers losing by six goals to one. Ben Mullen, the centre-half showed the forwards how to finish as he was the solitary goal scorer for the 19s. The team has some important games ahead, with both the coaching staff along with the players look to improve fortunes.

The Cavan/Monaghan Football Partnership continue to provide League of Ireland football for the area. The coaches and players alike are improving week in, week out going up against the best local talent in the country. From the under-13s right up to the under-19s, this football partnership is ambitious, keep an eye out as many talented players are starting to come through at all levels.

McEntee impresses as Ireland look to build on opening point

David Wilson reporting for the Sean McCaffrey foundation.

In another life Oisin McEntee could have been expecting to be attending his debutante ball along with his school friends in the Patrician High School. However, 5,500 km away, under the searing Armenian heat, the colossal centre-half was lining out for his country in their opening game of the under-19 European Championships.

Their opening game on Monday pitted them against a talented Norwegian side, who many believe as their best crop of youngsters this nation has produced since the glory days of the 90’s when they defeated Brazil at France ’98. The Norwegian squad were slightly affected as four of their would-be starters were drafted into their under-20 side who competed at the World Cup in Poland.

McEntee, has remained one of the two first choice centre-halves in which manager Tom Mohan has relied upon over the course of the two qualifying rounds. In this tournament McEntee now aims to build a solid central defensive partnership with Arsenal defender Mark McGuinness.

Temperatures in Yerevan were well into the thirties as a nervy opening ten minutes resulted in Ireland going behind to a goal from Rosenborg striker Erik Botheim. A defensive error from winger Ali Reghba allowed Norwegian left wing-back Edvard Tagseth to pull the ball back towards Botheim who made no mistake as he clinically fired beyond Brian Maher in the Irish goal.

Ireland immediately took a foothold in the game as going behind looked to have settled the young side. A holding midfield double pivot of skipper Lee O’Connor and Manchester City youngster Joe Hodge provided a platform to allow Mohan’s men to influence the game further up the pitch.

Reghba, along with striker Johnathan Afolabi created problems for the back three of Norway with the ex-Bohs man Reghba going close before halftime. The second half continued with Ireland looking to press home an equaliser whilst the back four of Andy Lyons, McEntee, McGuinness and Jack James remained firm in defence.

Brandon Kavanagh, Reghba and the introduction of flying winger Matt Everitt provided creative attacking guile but could not execute the final ball as chances were limited.

With ten minutes to go midfield maestro Hodge cracked home an equaliser from 25 yards out, earning a crucial point for Mohan’s young guns. Minutes later the game reflected a basketball game more than a football game as both sides flooded forward in search of a winner.

It was the Norwegians who went closest as Mikael Ugland smashed the post with a thumping drive with just minutes remaining. Perhaps the most crucial of interventions came from McEntee, as the former Carrick Rovers player blocked Norway substitute Noah Jean Holm when he looked destined to score from 8 yards out.

Again, as aerial deliveries bombarded the Irish 18-yard box, McEntee and McGuinness gave an exhibition in defending as they headed, blocked and cleared all Norwegian attempts to find the winning goal. The squad can take confidence from the 1-1 draw as they play France and the Czech Republic in their final two group games.

Squad

Mohan, who is a former FAI regional development officer for the Cavan-Monaghan region, the local ties to this squad are numerous. McEntee who is a product of the Emerging Talent Programme originally hails from Shercock and now plays his football across the water with Newcastle United.

Many challenges faced Mohan had whilst selecting his squad. Twelve absentees hindered Mohan in his selection of his squad. As this tournament doesn’t fall in a FIFA approved window, the clubs are under no obligation to release players to their national teams. This means that the likes of Adam Idah (Norwich City), Michael Obafemi (Southampton F.C.), Gavin Bazunu (Manchester City), Luca Connell (Celtic), Troy Parrot (Tottenham Hotspur), Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion), Nathan Collins (Stoke City) and Aaron Bolger (Cardiff City) are just some of the unavailable players which provided a headache for Mohan and his managerial team.

An impressive qualifying campaign in which victory was secured in all six games, which also included the elimination of the Netherlands, expectations are high for this group of under-19 players. Even with the unavailability of certain key players, the production line is strong with many talented players stepping up from the under-17 international squad such as goal-scorer Hodge, Andrew Omobamidele, Festy Ebosele and Matt Everitt just to name a few.

Tournament

Before the regrading of this competition to its current under-19 guise, the tournament was previously won at under-18 level under the guidance of Brian Kerr. Players such as Robbie Keane, Richard Dunne and Stephen McPhail all were victorious at this level before going on to play for the senior national team.

Sean McCaffrey himself coached this age group for seven years after the promotion of Brian Kerr to the senior international job. Many talented players came through under the tutelage of McCaffrey such as Stephen Ward, Anthony Stokes and James McCarthy.

The next week will be an exciting yet challenging one for McEntee. The Cavan man will have to be at his best to keep out a talented French side on Thursday, which is live on RTE television at 6p.m. Every game is pivotal, including the last game against the Czechs on Sunday evening also kicking off at 6p.m. on RTE television.

The Sean McCaffrey foundation would like to wish Tom, Oisin, all the players and the staff all the very best over the next couple weeks in Yerevan and look forward to the future to see these players represent the Boys in Green at under-21 and senior level.

Republic of Ireland Squad

Goalkeepers: Brian Maher (St Patrick’s Athletic), George McMahon (Burnley)

Defenders: Andy Lyons (Bohemians), Mark McGuinness (Arsenal), Oisin McEntee (Newcastle United), Andrew Omobamidele (Norwich City), Jack James (Unattached), Kameron Ledwidge (Southampton), Ciaran Brennan (Sheffield Wednesday)

Midfielders: Joe Hodge (Manchester City), Lee O’Connor (Manchester United), Barry Coffey (Celtic), Niall Morahan (Sligo Rovers), Brandon Kavanagh (Shamrock Rovers), Conor Grant (Sheffield Wednesday)

Forwards: Jonathan Afolabi (Unattached), Ali Reghba (Leicester City), Tyreik Wright (Aston Villa), Matt Everitt (Brighton & Hove Albion), Festy Ebosele (Derby County)