McCalmont Cup draw

THEY were drawn out against Evergreen A on their way to the title - now Callan United must overcome another Evergreen side as they begin the defence of the McCalmont Cup.

THEY were drawn out against Evergreen A on their way to the title - now Callan United must overcome another Evergreen side as they begin the defence of the McCalmont Cup.

United were the last club to come out of the hat when the Kilkenny & District League made the first round draw for junior soccer’s blue riband competition on Monday.

Callan, who got the better of Evergreen A in last year’s first round, will take on Evergreen B this time around.

Thirty-two teams were entered in the competition this year (Highview Athletic B did not enter while Freebooters B will no longer feature this season after giving three walkovers in the league).

The full first round draw is: Clifden United v Urlingford, Lions A v Spa United, Thomastown United B v Fort Rangers, Tullaroan v Evergreen A, East End United B v St Anne’s, East End United A v AC Kilkenny A, St John’s v Thomastown United A, Newpark B v Freebooters A, Brookville v Freshford Town, River Rangers v Highview Athletic A, Stoneyford United v Clover United, Newpark A v Bridge United A, Orchard Rovers v Bridge United B, AC Kilkenny B v Lions B, Southend United v Evergreen C, Evergreen B v Callan United.

First round games will be played on March 31 (clubs requesting Easter weekend off are asked to contact John Corrigan immediately). The second round is scheduled for April 14, with third round games down for April 28. The semi-finals will be played on the weekend of May 12, with the final to be held on May 26.

It was a great week for Ben Ryan, who used his head more than once to make some national headlines.

The former Freebooters player was the main man, scoring the only goal of the game as IT Carlow landed the CFAI Umbro Cup for the third time in four years.

Ryan provided his side with a great chance to take an early lead against Waterford IT when he was brought down in the box after just five minutes, but Waterford netminder Cormac O’Brien saved Barry O’Mahony’s spot kick.

In a tense encounter Ryan struck the only goal when he got his head to Adam Hanlon’s 62nd minute cross to score the only goal of the game to help a Carlow side, which also included Freshford’s James Dermody, to retain the trophy.

Ryan scored again on Friday night as his club Waterford United drew 1-1 with Finn Harps in their opening game of the new Airtricity League season. It was Ryan’s second header of the week, but it wasn’t enough to earn all the spoils this time as an 89th minute equaliser saw Harps rescue a point at the death.

It was a weekend to forget for several other locals involved in the Airtricity League. A Wexford Youths team, backboned by Kilkenny players, lost their season opener 5-0 to Cobh Ramblers.

Wexford, who were captained by Graham Doyle, also had Joe Mulcahy, Aiden Keenan and Dean Broaders in their starting XI. C.J. Browne and James Darmody were on the bench.

The RSC was a busy venue for Kilkenny soccer as the Oscar Traynor team played their long-awaited final group game there on Tuesday night.

Although essentially a dead-rubber, both sides used the tie as an opportunity to field young teams. Evans Wallace scored in the 1-1 draw for Kilkenny, who had good performances from Aidan Tuohy, Sean Murphy, Conor English, Dylan Whearty and Craig Eardley.

The highlight of the weekend belonged to Kilkenny’s Karen Duggan, who became a senior international during the Republic of Ireland’s Cyprus Cup campaign.

Although Duggan didn’t play in the opening game against Northern Ireland on Wednesday last, the Piltown defender came on against South Africa on Friday to add a senior cap to an ever-growing list of honours she has achieved in the game.

There was also international recogition for Killian Cantwell. The Kieran’s College student was called up to the Irish Schools team for the Centenary Shield squad, which begins its campaign against Northern Ireland this Friday evening in Derry.