Galway once again proved to be a happy hunting ground for Kildare as they sent two Academy teams to compete in the Umbro Galway Cup this year, writes Pat McNally.
The 1999 team brought home the elite plate after great win in the final over North Tipperary while the 1997 team were unfortunately beaten on penalties in their final against St Oliver Plunkett from Belfast.
Kildare went into this competition with high hopes after reaching the last 4 of the all Ireland, they got off to a bad start against the home academy of Galway losing out 1-0 to a 25 yard free kick ten min from time.
The second game was a different story as Kildare found themselves 4-0 up after 12 minutes against West Waterford/East Cork with the early goals coming from Pauraig Touhy, Kian Farrell Jake Dardis and Eoghan Maguire as Kildare played total football throughout this game and Aran Teahan rounded off a superb performance with a 5th to make full time 5-0.
Kildare went into their final group game needing a result to guarantee 2nd place in group. A strong Armagh team stood in the way and Armagh went 1-0 up through a defensive mistake,
Kildare pushed everything forward for the equaliser and were worthy of Joe Breen goal which gave them the hard earned draw to finish second and go into the plate semi final where they met Salthill Devon Kildare started this game well and were 2-0 up at half time through an OG and a brilliant finish from Kallum Ennis,Darren Quinn finished the scoring in 2nd half to give Kildare a 3-0 win and a final to look forward to against North Tipperary.
The final was another impressive performance despite going in at 0-0 at the break Kildare had created numerous chances.
The introduction of Jack Cully at half time paid dividends as he got a second half hat trick along with a Joe Breen free kick Kildare ran out deservedly 4-0 winners and captain Ruari O Neill lifted the plate for Kildare who had 10 different scorers and only conceded 2 goals in what was a successful Galway cup outing.
The 1997 team started with a 1-0 defeat to the Midlands League but they fought back with wins over Tipperary with goals by Eric Murphy, Brian Daly and Stephen O Brien.
Their 4-0 win over Oxford Stars with goals by Stefan Lawlor, Glen Holmes and Eric Murphy put them into the semi final where they faced the Kerry League.
Goals by Aaron Murphy, Ethan O’Donoghue and Matt Kelly saw the team advance to the final against a good St Oliver Plunkett and although they took the lead with a great header at the back post by Conaan Hayes they failed to hold on to their advantage and lost out on a penalty shoot out.