Mayo teams get their National League dates

Mayo's Under 14 and Under 15 soccer teams will get their National League campaigns under way on June 26.

Both teams are in groups with Sligo Rovers, Finn Harps, Derry City and Cavan Monaghan as the regional structure that was introduced last year due to Covid-19 has been continued, albeit in a slightly altered way.

The Under 14s will be at home to Derry City on the opening weekend, with the Under 15s travelling to take on the same opposition.

The first home game for the Under 15s will be played a week later against Sligo Rovers, with the Under 14s travelling to the Bit o' Red.

As announced earlier this year, Tom Dempsey will manage the Under 15 team, assisted by Anthony Kearney, with Tom Byrne to continue with the Under 14s as they step up from Under 13 last year (the Under 13 competition has been revised to an Under 14 format). Emmet Peyton will assist Tom with the Under 14s and act as goalkeeping coach for both squads.

Both the Under 14 and Under 15 competitions start with five groups of five teams, with Mayo in Group A. The teams play each other on a home and away basis in phase one, after which the competitions split. The top 10 teams (top two in each group) progress to the League, with the remaining 15 teams (bottom three in each group) competing in the Shield. There will also be a cup competition in each age grade, which will be played on a regional basis for the first two rounds before branching into an open draw format.

Meanwhile, EA SPORTS have become title sponsor of the national underage competitions across both male and female academy systems, while the underage finals will be live-streamed, with full match commentary, on LOITV at the end of the season.

Speaking on the new announcement, newly appointed League of Ireland academy development manager, Will Clarke, said: “We are very excited with the prospect of collaborating with EA SPORTS to further enhance the development of our League of Ireland academy system and we are delighted that a brand such as EA SPORTS sees the potential in our underage game. We look forward to working closely with them in the coming years.”

League of Ireland director Mark Scanlon added: “I am delighted to welcome EA SPORTS on board as sponsor of this crucial part of the League of Ireland structure. This partnership will help strengthen the development of the game and further support the great work that League of Ireland clubs perform with young players as they progress through the game and hopefully into first team football with their clubs.”

FAI partnerships manager Conor Cullen stated: “We are delighted to renew our long-standing partnership with EA SPORTS and to welcome them as the title sponsor of the EA SPORTS National Underage Leagues.

"EA SPORTS are a globally-recognised brand and through their popular FIFA video game series, they engage with millions of football fans on a day-to-day basis. We are looking forward to working with them to build the profile of what is a key area of the domestic game.”

EA SPORTS FIFA marketing director James Salmon commented: “EA SPORTS have had a long-standing partnership with the FAI and we’re thrilled to continue our association by becoming the official sponsor of the National Underage Leagues.

"As the pipeline for aspiring young talent to move through the elite player pathway, this partnership reinforces our commitment to grassroots football. Through our collaboration with the FAI we look forward to continuing to support clubs, players and fans across the country.”