Eircom U21 League , 2002 & 2003

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Eircom U-21 League

First Season –
September 2002
Kerry 2 Cobh Ramblers 0
This was a game they controlled for long periods with Maurice O’Rahilly and Shane Guthrie superb in defence. Their goals came from a David Conway penalty and an excellent Chris Kerins free kick. An interesting statistic from this game was that referee Jim O’Connor issued fourteen yellow and two red cards.

Waterford United 2 Kerry 0
Kerry were under strength for this away trip to Waterford and without the services of Shane Guthrie, Mark Fitzgerald, James Sugrue and Chris Kerins they went down 2-0 to a full strength home side.

October 2002
Enda McGill National U-21 Cup
Kerry 0 Bohemians 0 (Bohemians won 5-3 on penalties)

This was a good advertisement for the state of the game in Kerry that a side like Bohemians came down to the Kingdom and ended up depending on a penalty shoot out to go through. There was a message for the Kerry manager also, a natural goal poacher is needed, as once again the home side created the chances but failed to avail of them.

Cobh Ramblers 1 Kerry 4
Cobh Ramblers outplayed for the entire game and scored four goals in the process with Chris Kerins opening the scoring after six minutes. However Kerry had to prove their pedigree when Kieran O’Sullivan gave away a penalty, which was missed, and was then sent off, in the 10th minute. A team reshuffle saw Eoin O’Driscoll give a superb display as the lone striker. The other Kerry goals from Shane Guthrie, David Conway and Chris Kerins.

Cork City 2 Kerry 0
The Cork City side took the game to Kerry from the start and denied them the opportunity to put their foot on the ball thereby preventing them from playing t heir normal game. Cork were rewarded for their pressure with goals in the 35th and 65th minutes.

Kerry 2 University of Limerick 0
A quality opening goal in the 24th minute when Kieran O’Sullivan delivered a fifty yard cross field pass to James Sugrue wide on the right and his perfect pass was met by Conway who crashed the ball to the net. Jason Fitzgerald got the second goal late in the game.

November 2002
Kerry 2 Cobh Ramblers 1
The two most experienced players on the Kerry side Mark Fitzgerald and Maurice O’Rahilly were unavailable but they still went ahead after twenty minutes when Shane Guthrie headed home a Stephen O’Mahony cross. Timmy Lynch set up Eoin O’Driscoll to score wn and when bohemians scored a second goal in second half stoppage time Kerry accepted their defeat with dignity.

Second Season –

July 2003
Enda McGill U-21 Cup
University of Limerick 2 Kerry 3
With thirty minutes played in this game Kerry were 2-0 down and struggling but some astute positional switches saw a complete transformation that enabled Kerry to make the comeback of the season which started when Chris Kerins pulled a goal back before half time. Kerry were in control for the second half and when David Gleeson scored the equaliser in the 70th minute there was only to be one winner. Brian O’Reilly and David Gleeson did the ground work in setting up Eoin O’Driscoll to score the winner in the 80th minute for what seemed an impossible victory.

Eircom U-21 League
Kerry 2 University of Limerick 0
These teams met again a week later, this time in Mounthawk Park, with the same score line but with the goals coming from Mike Moloney and James Wall with Timmy Lynch and Maurice O’Rahilly outstanding in defence.

Kerry 0 Cork City 0
Cork City, containing a number of Premier League players, were the next visitors to Mounthawk Park but they failed to break down a determined Kerry side whose defence Kieran O’Sullivan, Timmy Lynch, Maurice O’Rahilly and Brian O’Reilly were outstanding in securing a point for the home side.

Kilkenny City 2 Kerry 2
An away point against an experienced Kilkenny City was a brilliant result for this Kerry outfit who are great ambassadors for Kerry soccer. Their midfield quartet of Shane Guthrie, Mike Moloney,Peter McCarthy and James Wall were masters of that area. Eoin O’Driscoll gave Kerry the lead, Kilkenny came back to score twice, and a late penalty by Brian Baker gave Kerry a priceless point

August 2003
Enda McGill Cup
Kerry 2 UCD 2 (Kerry won 4-3 on penalties)
This was easily Kerry’s biggest result since they entered the Eircom U-21 League. What made it sweeter was that Kerry, conceded a goal in the first minute and, had to come from behind twice to eventually win the penalty shoot out. David Hennessy saved Kerry on a number of occasions and Billy Dennehy was causing havoc in the UCD defence but it was Maurice O’Rahilly who headed homer the equaliser. It looked bad for Kerry when UCD regained the lead in the 81st minute but a determined fight back saw Chris Kerins score in the last minute. Extra time produced no goals but Kerry held their nerve to win 4-3 in the penalty shoot out.

Cork City 0 Kerry DL 2
This was a massive victory for Kerry over a Cork City side that started with seven players with Premier League experience. David Hennessy was outstanding in the Kerry goals but the plaudits went goal scorers Brian O’Reilly and Chris Kerins.

Kerry DL 2 Kilkenny City 1
This was the first League of Ireland game to be played in Craughdarrig Park, Asdee and Kerry were once again the victors after conceding the first goal of the game midway through the opening half. A Chris Kerins penalty had the sides on level terms at half time and the second half remained scoreless until David Gleeson scored in the final minute.

Enda McGill Cup
Kerry 2 Cork City 2 (Cork City won 5-4 on penalties)
The following week saw Kerry bow out of the Enda McGill cup, ironically on penalties, after an absorbing game in Mounthawk Park David Conway gave Kerry a lead they held for fifteen minutes and were still level at the break. Cork went ahead from the penalty spot in the third minute of the second half. Kerry were level in the 65th minute when David Conway volleyed a Mike Moloney cross to the net but on this occasion Kerry lost the shoot out after time failed to produce a goal.

September 2003
Kerry 2 Waterford United 0
Dermot Dineen (Fenit Samphires) made his debut in goals after, David Hennessey had signed for Cobh Ramblers, for this vitally important game for Kerry. In a move started by Kieran O’Sullivan, and involving five players, the home side took the lead in the 43rd minute when Chris Kerins shot to the net. The Kerry reserves were Mike Moloney and Billy Dennehy combined their skills to produce the second, and final, goal with twelve minutes to play. This result saw Kerry on top of the table.

University of Limerick 1 Kerry 3
The Kerry boys maintained their leaders position following a 3-1 victory over UL in an away fixture a week later.David Gleeson (32 min), Chris Kerins (44 min and 87 min) were the players to finish the outstanding ground play of their team mates.

Cobh Ramblers 0 Kerry 1
Cobh were the only team to beat Kerry in the league and with their former team mate, David Hennessy, in goals for the home side the Kerry boys their task in avenging that defeat was not going to be easy. Kerry were without Kieran o’Sullivan, Mike Moloney, Eoin O’Driscoll and David Conway but they still took the game to Cobh and scored the only goal of the game in the 70th minute when David Gleeson finished from a Timmy Lynch cross.

Kilkenny City 1 Kerry DL 1
They know they should have won but Kerry were thankful for Chris Kerins goal late in stoppage time that saw them pick up another point on the road.

October 2003
Waterford United 2 Kerry DL 4

Kerry found themselves two goals down after twenty five minutes, then lost Shane Guthrie who was red carded and David Conway who picked up an injury. Chris Kerins gave Kerry a lifeline with a late first half goal but that score line still remained with twenty minutes to play.

Kerry DL 2 Cork City 3
Coming into this game Kerry knew that a draw would see them top of the table and guarantee a home draw in the knock out stages of the competition. Billy Dennehy gave Kerry the lead after five minutes and Cork levelled on the half hour. It was still 1-1 with twenty minutes to play but the Kerry defence lost concentration and Cork struck twice to secure victory.

November 2003
Shelbourne 4 Kerry DL 0

A superior Shelbourne side ended Kerry’s interest in the Eircom U-21 league with a 4-0 defeat at the AUL Complex, Clonsaugh in early November. The Dublin side were in control from the kick off whereas the Kerry side failed to get their game together for the first time in two seasons. It was a pity that it had to end with a game that Kerry failed to score a goal in – but that’s football.

The Facts
By the end of the second season Kerry had played 27, Won 15, Drew 4, Lost 8.

Games Won
In their campaign over the first two seasons Kerry had a good record against established League of Ireland clubs. They succeeded in beating Cobh Ramblers on four occasions – two home and two away, beat Waterford United twice – home and away, they did beat Cork City once in an away fixture ands recorded home wins over Limerick City, Mervue United.

Lost Games
As stated two of the eight games they lost were on penalty shoot-outs but some interesting statistics are that four of the eight games were against Cork City and in three of those Kerry failed to score.

Drawn Games
They drew with Bohemians and Cork City but lost to both in the resultant penalty shoot-out whereas having drawn with UCD the Kerry side won on penalties. They also drew with Cork City at home .

Report Courtesy of Christy Leahy .