After a very disappointing exit at the semi-final stage of the FAI Cup the previous week, Clonmel Town’s under 11 team turned their fortunes around in dramatic fashion by winning the regional final of the U-11 Danone Cup. They won their local group stages last Thursday, earning the right to represent their county along with St. Kevin’s from Littleton at the South East Regional Finals at Campile in Wexford on Sunday last. The cream of schoolboy teams from Wexford, Waterford, Carlow, Kilkenny and Tipperary gathered for a day-long blitz, with only one team emerging to represent the region at the national finals.
Clonmel Town were drawn in a very difficult group but put two emphatic wins on the board, accounting for Wexford Albion and Park Villa from Carlow. They then played Evergreen of Kilkenny, winning 3-0 and played some wonderful football to set them up for their final group game against Southend from Waterford. This proved to be a very tense affair, with both teams giving their all, sharing a point each, which ultimately was enough for the Town lads to top their group.
Tramore from Waterford were their opponents in the final, which again served up a real feast of football that the large crown really enjoyed. Clonmel were by far the better team but unfortunately could not break Tramore down, which resulted in the final going to penalties.
Oisin Napier and Luke Kiely proved to be the heroes on the day, scoring the 2 penalties in this 3 penalty kick final. There was huge jubilation at the final whistle, with the Town boys reaching the National Final and ‘keeper Rowan Wagner not conceding a goal in all five matches. Within 12 months this group of young talented players have won the Barnardos Munster Cup, reached the last 4 of the FAI Cup and now have won the honour of representing the South East in the National Finals, where they will be joined by 7 other top teams in the country. The prize at stake now is a trip to Madrid to represent Ireland at the World finals playing in the Bernabeu Stadium in October. These boys deserve enormous credit to have achieved so much and it gave them some consolation, as they believe they did not do themselves the previous week in front of a large home crowd in the FAI semi-final.
They carry on a great tradition for Clonmel Town, who have twice previously won the national competition and represented Ireland on the world stage.