Amongst the calm weather, there was action upon the pitches with Sligo Leitirm Youth League winning their Cup semi-final against Mervue United in the 2003 Elite category, having overcome a touch group that included Clare, NECSL and Kildare with narrow wins over the first two before coming back from a goal down with a fabulous goal of their own to earn the draw.
After their semi-final success, Extratime.ie spoke with John McAteer and he felt it was a brilliant tournament with a great standard of football to it and was nice enough to make a particular mention for the referees as he said, “I have to compliment the referees as the referring has been of a high quality here.”
On the Sligo Leitrim team’s performance in the match just finished, John said it was a “good win alright” and while he felt that they “didn’t play as well as we’ve probably had played the last few days,” he praised them for seeing the win out.
“We’ve won well. Finishing with three goals in the first half set us up nicely, and we just went for keeping things right and tight for the second half and it worked out in the finish up for us.”
For the past three years, Sligo Leitrim have been working with Sligo Rovers in a line-up for player development. With praise directed towards regional development officer and current Sligo Rovers midfielder John Russell, whose been present during the course of this tournament, as he’s “a massive help and does a lot with the Sligo Leitrim panels”, John also felt each year it was getting better with them both trying to do more.
The goal for both sides is to see players develop into the Sligo Rovers first team and they have examples to look towards as Gary Armstrong and Ryan McManus have recently been involved in the first team, the former this year still, with both having played for Merville and Saint Johns respectively whilst also appearing for the Sligo Leitrim interleague squads.
On this John said, “It’s great. Look, that’s why we’re trying to get a few more players playing for Sligo Rovers, that’d be what our aim would be and that’s all these young lads want to do, is to play for Sligo Rovers, and hopefully down the line we’ll see more lads like that getting involved in the first team.”
With the possible introduction of summer football in the schoolboy leagues, it has thrown up thoughts of possible issues and how the clubs respond to it. John’s attitude is more open and accepting with an underlying no-nonsenseness about the change in the football calendar.
“Oh yeah, there’ll be challenges but look I don’t think there’s any challenge you can’t overcome. It’s just a matter of working together with other sports really, a lot of leagues are doing that already, and I can’t see why we couldn’t do it, you know. It’s up to the clubs whether they want to bring it in or not, the clubs will vote it in when the time comes but I’ll be a big fan of it.”
Another implementation he’s a big fan of is the u15 League of Ireland coming in, as he feels the pathway is such that, “slowly but surely, we’ll have u19s, u17s and now u15s, as well as talking about u13s in the future. I think it’s a pathway right through to League of Ireland football so I reckon that’s where we need to head and what we need to be doing.”
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