The Waterford Under 16 Squad celebrate their All-Ireland semi-final victory over Donegal at Ozier Park on Saturday last. Next up is a final clash with DDSL on Sunday.
SFAI Subway National U-16 Championship Final
Sunday, January 22
Waterford Schoolboy League v Dublin District Schoolboy League
Cahir Park, Co. Tipperary. Kick-off – 3pm.
This Sunday will write the final chapter for John Furlong in Inter League management at Schoolboy League level in Waterford as the most successful underage manager will take on a new challenge with Waterford FC as U-17 boss after this final where his side will take on the DDSL.
The National U-16 Championship decider will be played at Cahir Park on Sunday where Furlong’s side will be hoping to continue their recent good run against a Dublin outfit that were polished in their semi-final triumph over the Galway Schoolboy League last weekend.
Speaking ahead of the final, the Waterford boss said, “I’m delighted for the players that they have managed to defy the odds again and reach the National final. I do think however that they showed a lot of nerves in the opening 15 minutes of the semi-final on Saturday.
“This was a big game for many of the players and I think that showed during the early stages of the game because they knew that they were only one win away from reaching a final. I thought that once we settled into the game, we were very good.
“I wasn’t particularly happy with the performance in the first half and we did have a chat about that at half time even though we were two goals to the good. We were sloppy in our play and didn’t pass the ball with the same confidence as we did against both Cork and Kerry in the Munster final.”
“The one thing that I have to give the lads enormous credit for is the amount of effort that they put into the game and their workrate was excellent again. I think we’ve seen over the last few games that this group is very solid and play for each other, which was vital to this win.
“I said it after the Munster final that I thought our defence was excellent and again today I thought that both Craig Reidy and Mark O’Meara made life very difficult for the Donegal players. I know people will say that they shaded the early exchanges but I can’t remember Ben (Kirwan) having a shot to save.
“The first goal, like every big game, is always important and I think the goal from Cameron Power really unsettled Donegal. Cameron did really well for the goal with the control from the clearance and also the confidence to take on the strike.
“We did really well for the second goal as well. The build-up was very good as Abbey did well out on the right to find Junior. I have to say that in that situation you would expect the striker to take the opportunity but in fairness he saw Cameron make the run and the finish was super.
“I have to say that we never really looked under pressure in the second half and it was great to get two other goals. Abbey did really well to follow up for the third goal as he has done in the last two games and Junior took his goal really well.”
“I made the trip to Galway to see the other semi-final on Sunday where the DDSL won 3-1. They will be a different challenge for us but one that we won’t fear. I have to say that the lads are playing with great confidence and have stood up to the plate when it has really mattered in the big games.
“We’ve seen a different side to a lot of the players since we took them over and I’m delighted for them that they’ve reached a final but they now much remember that this is a final that’s really there to be won and we shouldn’t be fearing our opponents.
“People hear of the DDSL and automatically think game over but I think that there is a big chance for us to produce a performance to be proud of on Sunday and I’m sure whatever happens it will be a really entertaining game of football.
“As people are aware by now, this will be my final assignment as manager of the Waterford Inter League side after having many years of highs and lows but thankfully it has been more highs than lows. I have always been proud to manage Waterford teams and we’ve tasted success along the way.
“Sunday would be a fitting way to end it all with victory but whatever happens I’m grateful to have gotten the opportunity to manage some of the best players to play in Waterford and I thank the Schoolboy League for that opportunity. I’m really hoping that it can end on a high with victory.” Let’s hope that it’s golden celebrations.