Former Manor Rangers player Peter Maguire is in line to make his Sligo Rovers debut this weekend when the inaugural SSE SSE Airtricity League U15 National League gets underway.
The U15 National League will be made up of 24 teams from across the country and they will all participate in a shortened 2017 season. There will be four groups with six teams competing in each group and the top two teams from each group will then qualify for the finals stage.
All 20 SSE Airtricity League teams are represented with three schoolboy league sides – Kerry Schoolboys League, Mayo League, Monaghan/Cavan Partnership – and St. Kevin’s Boys making up the 24 sides in the truncated season.
Looking ahead to the new season Sligo Rovers Chairman Martin Heraghty sad, "As a community club with an ever expanding player base, now catering for under-19, under-17 and under-15 teams, with an under-13 squad in the offing, it is vitally important that we continue to have the support of the public to help us meet our increasing obligations.
"Fortunately, we have enjoyed generous sponsorship from a wide variety of local and regional businesses in recent years, and the practical backing of the under-15 team by Conor and Enda O’Brien (O’Brien & Associates) provides a very timely boost. It is typical of the type of support which helps keep the club ticking over,” the chairman observed.
The under-15 team, under the management of former Rovers stalwart Conor O’Grady alongside Marcel Gordon and Paul Masterson, will play in a regional group which includes Derry City, Cavan/Monaghan, Finn Harps, Longford Town and the Mayo League.
Shamrock Rovers U15 Head Coach Damien Duff said, "I can't wait. We've been back training four or five weeks now and I know it is something that the players are really excited about.
"We start on Saturday with Galway United at home so yeah, I'm just as excited as when I was a player.
"I'm really enjoying the role. I asked the club for the role and I want to learn and develop as a coach, and I thought this was the perfect way to do it. For me, the Shamrock Rovers U15 job is the biggest job in the world to me at the minute."
FAI High Performance Director Ruud Dokter commented, "The national U15 league is the next step in the elite player development pathway in Ireland.
"Of course, the U19s and U17s league have been very successful. We saw Cork City compete in the UEFA Youth League last season and the Republic of Ireland U17 side qualified for the finals this summer, with 10 home-based players which is fantastic.
"To build on this success, it is crucial that we now extend that pathway and I'm really looking forward to seeing what the future brings."
Republic of Ireland U15 Head Coach Jason Donohue said, "It opens up more opportunities for the best players in the country to play with each other which will only benefit the country going forward.
"It is all about development. I'm going to work with the coaches from the league, invite them to Abbotstown and different sessions to show them what we do at international level which will hopefully benefit them as well.
"We want to make sure the players we bring in are better equipped to deal with international football, and I'm sure the national U15 league will do that."
The Sligo Rovers under-15 team, under the management of former Rovers stalwart Conor O’Grady alongside Marcel Gordon and Paul Masterson, will play in a regional group which includes Derry City, Cavan/Monaghan, Finn Harps, Longford Town and the Mayo League.
The Sligo Rovers squad for the upcoming season, with their previous clubs is as follows:
1. James Robinson (Castlebar Celtic); 2. Tommy Scahill (Westport United); 3. Jason Devanney (Strand Celtic); 4. Liam Walsh (Kiltimagh/Knock Utd); 5. Bryan Lynch (Strand Celtic); 6. Dylan Walsh (Gurteen Celtic); 7. Oran Grourke (Castlebar Celtic); 8. Caoilte Brannigan (Strand Celtic); 9. Ultan O Grady (Sligo Rovers); 10. Sean Kerrigan (Real Tubber); 11. Rossa McAllister (Westport United); 12. Kailan Barlow (Merville United); 13. Ciaran Jennings (Valley Rovers); 14. Stephen Gill (Kiltimagh/Knock Utd); 15. Ben Feeney (Castlebar Celtic); 16. Sean McAteer (Merville United)
17. Johnny Kenny (Arrow Harps); 18. Peter Maguire (Manor Rangers); 19. Callum Lavelle (Castlebar Celtic); 20. Cillian Heaney (Castlebar Cetlic).
The fixtures for the opening weekend of the National U-15 League are as follows:
18/08 Finn Harps v Sligo Rovers, Finn Park, 7pm
19/08 Mayo v Monaghan-Cavan, Milebush, 2pm
20/08 Longford Town v Derry City, City Calling Stadium, 2pm
19/08 UCD v St. Kevin's Boys, Marley Park, 2pm
19/08 Shamrock Rovers v Galway United, Roadstone, 3pm
19/08 Athlone Town v Bray Wanderers, Athlone Town Stadium, 7pm
17/08 Cork City v Kerry, Bishopstown, 7pm
20/08 Limerick v Waterford, UL, 2pm
20/08 Wexford v Cobh Ramblers, Gorey, 3pm
19/08 Dundalk v Shelbourne, Oriel Park, 2pm
19/08 Cabinteely v Drogheda United, Stradbrook, 2pm
19/08 Bohemians v St. Patrick's Athletic, Oscar Traynor Centre, 3pm