FAI ETB Bobby Smith Cup launched
The FAI ETB Bobby Smith Cup was launched today in FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown, on a frosty morning in the capital. The FAI ETB Player Development Programme has been running nationwide since 1994, and provides full time training and education for young people in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Dundalk and Castlebar. The cup competition, which is in its 11th year, is played over the course of the FAI ETB season which begins every September.
In Group A, defending champions Waterford will be keen to repeat their 2022 success, but will face strong opposition from Castlebar, who now have former League of Ireland player Raf Cretaro on their coaching staff. Limerick, managed by Craig Madigan, and Cork, who have new coaches Mark McNulty and Ian Turner on board, make up a competitive group that will surely go down to the wire.
Waterford Manager, Paddy Carey, said: “The win last season really reflected the effort that the players put in every day. This year has been no different and we’ve had some good performances in our recent friendlies. But it won’t be easy, there are some strong teams this time around and whoever gets out of the group will have earned it.”
In Group B, Dundalk and Clondalkin are early favourites to progress, but Harry McCue’s Cabra and Gerry Davis’ Irishtown have a proven pedigree in the competition and will not make it easy for them. League of Ireland stalwarts Gavin Peers and Harry Kenny head the Dundalk and Clondalkin courses respectively, and are no strangers to cup wins.
Harry Kenny said: “We’ve been training well and the standard with our players is quite good this year. Getting out of the group would be a great success for us, but if we were able to do that, you obviously want to go on and win. Like everyone, we’re hopeful but we all know that anything can happen in football.”
Players to have played in this competition in the past include new Galway Utd signing Callum McNamara, Crystal Palace defender Killian Phillips, Ireland’s Matt Doherty, Kevin Long and Daryl Horgan, and St Patricks Athletics’ Chris Forrester.
Present for the launch today were Mickey Feeney (Castlebar), Dave Hill and Ian Turner (Douglas), Stuart Ashton and Mark McNulty (Carrigaline), Craig Madigan (Limerick), Harry McCue (Cabra), Harry Kenny (Clondalkin) and Michael McCarthy (FAI ETB Manager).
For more information, check out our FAI ETB programmes on all social media platforms, or click on https://www.fai.ie/domestic/fai-etb-player-development-course/about