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Dublin: 2 °C Sunday 17 November, 2019
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Fourth consecutive All-Ireland title won by arguably the best schoolboy team ever

St Kevin’s Boys’ U15s are one of a number of all-conquering sides at the Dublin club.

St Kevin's Boy U15s The St Kevin's U15 side which won a fourth All-Ireland title last weekend.

IF LAST WEEKEND’S SFAI cup finals proved anything, it is that St Kevin’s Boys are leading the way when it comes to Irish schoolboy football.

At Wayside Celtic’s Jackson Park, the North Dublin club won three of the five All-Ireland trophies up for grabs as their U13s, U15s and U16s all earned victories.

The day will live long in the memories of the Tangerines but it was a particularly historic occasion for the U15s, who became the first team to ever win the competition four times on the bounce.

Despite falling behind to an early goal for Belvedere from John Martin, Kevin’s hit back through a Evan Pierce double and one from captain Michael Cregan.

Under the management of Joe Quinn and Willie Burke, the vastly-talented group has been excelled over the past four years and are on the verge of picking up a third consecutive league title as they hold a nine-point lead at the top of the DDSL Premier with five games remaining.

This morning, they can edge another step closer to wrapping it up when they take on Belvo in a repeat of last weekend’s final.

They’re a particularly strong group of players,” Colm Barron of St Kevin’s tells TheScore.ie. “They are unique in the fact that they have gone four All-Irelands in the row.

“It is testament to the hard work that those lads have put in over the years. Their application to what we are trying to achieve in St Kevin’s is highlighted by how successful they have been with regard to the trophies that they have won and the players that have gone on trials and stepped up to international level.”

With a number of players involved in the Ireland set-up, it is not surprising to learn that various English clubs are interested in several of their signatures.

Striker Pierce has agreed in principle to join West Brom, while Thomas Byrne has caught the eye during trial periods and Shane Stokes has spent time at big guns like Chelsea and Manchester City.

As successful as the U15s have been, they are just one of the sides making waves. Two age groups down,  Paul O’Dwyer’s U13s defeated Crumlin United in the Troy Cup last weekend and also sit top of the league table.

And, just last month, they lost out to Dutch giants Ajax in the final of the Academy Cup final – which was hosted by St Kevin’s and included major clubs like Arsenal, Real Madrid and Celtic.

Robbie Brady Ireland's Robbie Brady is a former St Kevin's player. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

So what is it that sets the club which produced the likes of current Ireland internationals Robbie Brady and Jeff Hendrick apart from others?

“I think there’s a clear structure from top to bottom. We’ve got a director of football, we’ve got club coaches who look after the U7s-U11s and the U12s-U18s.

We’ve got a clear philosophy and playing style, while we also have a technical programme from a coaching point of view that is carried out from the minute kids walk in the door.

“If you look at any international governing body, there’s a plan and a progression with the end in mind.

“We’ve looked at what we want our players to be like when they’re senior players and although the best ones will leave when they’re 16, we know exactly we want them to develop, not just as footballers, but as people.

“Discipline, responsibility and other life skills that they will need are taught to them at an early age as well as diet, nutrition and psychology. Anything that we can do to try create a complete player, we will try to do.”

What shape is the Ireland squad in going into the summer friendlies?

‘You’ve got to enjoy the highs because there aren’t as many as there are lows’

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Ben Blake

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