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U19s set for Enda McGuill Cup Final

Press Release by www.fai.ieU19 Enda McGuill Cup Final

Two of the country's top underage sides will meet in tomorrow night's Enda McGuill Cup Final at UCD Bowl when UCD host Dundalk at 19:30.

The Students have a long history of producing exciting underage sides and won the SSE AIrtricity Under 19 National League title last year. They currently sit one point off top spot in the Southern Section and have already secured their place in the league play-offs.

But Maciej Tarnogrodzki's side also has the excitement of the UEFA Youth League clash with Norwegians champions Molde FK with the first leg in Dublin on September 27 in the backs of their minds.

"We've come to the important part of the season. We've reached the Enda McGuill Cup Final against Dundalk, which is great, and we've also qualified for the play-off stage in the league and we have the UEFA Youth League games against Molde coming up," said Tarnogrodzki.

"We've been working very hard for the best part of a year now. We started in December. It's been a long season but we've done very well. We're hoping that in the games that are coming up now that the boys can deliver.

"We're looking forward to what should be a great occasion tomorrow. Dundalk are a strong team. I went to watch them twice in the past month so I know a bit of them and I've also coached a few of their players previously. I hope it'll be a good game of football and people will enjoy it."

The Students boss admits that balancing the demands of the league, cup and European commitments has been testing but exciting - especially now his college players are returning to class for the beginning of the academic year.

"Because we have so many games at the moment with the cup and the league I've also been doing my research on Molde. I've already got two games they've played recently so it's a work in progress," he said.

"It's a time for the players to balance things with their college responsibilities as the new college years starts now but we've been together a while now so there's more focus on shape than during the summer when we had quite a few hard sessions. At the moment its just about maintaining their physical preparation and I don't envisage too many problems at this time."

Dundalk boss Martin Connolly will be looking to his youngsters to prove to Lilywhites boss Stephen Kenny that they can perform on the big stage and show the first team manager that they can progress to his side in due course.

"Some of the lads have played some first team football in the EA SPORTS Cup and the Leinster Senior Cup including the likes of Emmet Hughes, Jake O'Connor, Gavin Smith, Jack O'Keefe and Carlton Ubaezuonu," said Connolly.

"Just like the likes of Cork City or Shamrock Rovers maybe, where our first team is these days, if you've aspirations to play first team you have to be really good and high quality. They know that they've got to reach the highest level to catch Stephen Kenny's eye.

"The good side is that you're training with some of the best players in the SSE Airtricity League when you do go in there. Any time asked to do a job with Stephen they're always delighted go there.

"In general we've had a very good season, draws have killed us in the league - we've had five draws. We've saved some of our best performances for the cup.

"In particular we had a very tough semi-final down in Cobh and to travel down there on the day and win it 4-1 was a great performance. Jack O'Keefe scored one of the goals of the season down there."

Connolly is looking forward to the game tomorrow and the poignancy of the trophy being named after former Dundalk FC chairman Enda McGuill is not lost on the Lilywhites.

"We've looking forward to it - it's a prestigious cup final. All of the players are excited about it. Enda McGuill had a great history within our club. He was a former club chairman and league chairman, the bar in Oriel Park is named after him. He was a proud Dundalk man.

"Any game versus UCD is always tough. They've a great catchment for U19 level players and constantly producing players who've gone on to make a big impact and some with our own club over the years including the likes of Ronan Finn, Brian Gartland, Robbie Benson and Andy Boyle."

Enda McGuill Cup Final
Thursday, September 14
UCD v Dundalk, UCD Bowl, KO 19.30