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West Cork League park suggestion to switch to summer soccer until national trial is completed 

THE 2017-18 SuperValu West Cork Schoolboys League season will run from September until May following a decision at a reconvened AGM in Dunmanway earlier this week.

The WCSL’s original Annual General Meeting had to be suspended earlier this month when further clarification was sought on whether to move from West Cork’s traditional September-May timeframe to a new March-November setup.

Often referred to as ‘summer soccer’, a move to a March-November season has been talked about at both national and local schoolboys level for many years. With that in mind, West Cork decided to suspend its previous AGM and look for clarification at the SFAI’s annual get-together before meeting up once again to make a decision on what was best for the region’s upcoming campaign.

Held in Tralee, SFAI delegates representing schoolboys leagues from every corner of the country met and discussed a wide range of topics. The SFAI Committee informed delegates that no specific date has been set for moving to a March-November calendar season. The governing body also asked that all affiliated leagues refrain from any such move until three pilot cases being trialled in Clare, the Dublin District Schoolboys and Donegal were complete.

A report on the aforementioned pilots will be prepared and submitted to the SFAI Executive Committee for further consideration. From there, a council meeting will take place when a decision on how best to progress the issue, as an organisation, will be made. It is hoped to have this report completed and put before the SFAI Executive in September.

Even though they have been asked to wait until after the report is fully analysed and discussed, a number of Schoolboys Leagues have already gone ahead and changed their seasonal league format. The latest being Drogheda, who decided to make the move following their own AGM a fortnight ago, suggesting that, in this writer’s opinion, it is a case of when and not if the majority of Irish Schoolboys football will take place between the months of March and November in the near future.

So, the main topic on the WCSL’s agenda at the reconvened AGM in the Arch Bar in Dunmanway last Monday evening was made straightforward following news from the SFAI’s get-together. As per their governing body’s wishes, the West Cork Schoolboys League will retain its traditional September-May format for the 2017-18 campaign and await the outcome of the report to be presented to the SFAI Executive in a few months time.

Business as usual then for the 15 WCSL clubs who will shortly begin the process of attempting to arrange entry forms for each of their participating teams ahead of the upcoming season. Last year over 60 individual teams competed in 25 domestic and SFAI competitions across the U12, U13, U14, U15 and U16 age-grades. Those figures are likely to increase before September with the possible introduction of new U17 league, cup and shield tournaments.

Bantry Bay Rovers dominated the previous campaign winning the U12 Premier, U12 Division 1B, U13 Premier, U14 Division 1 and U16 Premier League titles as well as the U13 Cup and U16 Shield trophies. The Kealkil club’s domination of the domestic scene was not the only headline-maker of the previous season however as a selection of other WCSL clubs enjoyed success.

Skibbereen claimed a SuperValu U14 Premier League and Cup double while Castlelack enjoyed a positive end to the campaign by winning both the U14 and U16 Shield tournaments. Carrigroe-based Ardfield finished runners-up in the U14, U14 and U15 Cups but deservedly got their hands on some silverware by claiming the U14 and U16 Division 1 League crowns.