The new Dr. Tony O'Neill eircom League of Ireland Under-20 League kicks off this weekend, with the 22 eircom League sides joined by four more clubs in four regionalised groups.
Kilkenny City, which resigned its senior League of Ireland membership earlier this year, neighbours FC Carlow and Galway intermediate pair Salthill Devon and Mervue United join the 22 senior clubs in the League.
The inaugural season of the Under-20 League will run until the end of January 2009, with the top two teams from each regionalised group to qualify for the quarter-finals and the remainder of the competition being decided on an open draw knock-out basis.
Director of the eircom League of Ireland Fran Gavin said: “One of our primary objectives is to improve both player and club pathway into the eircom League of Ireland.
“The Under-20 league, as well as the A Championship, has a very important role to play in terms of bringing top quality young players through into the senior eircom League of Ireland set-up.
“The A Championship has been very successful and we now look forward to the Under-20 league commencing. I would particularly like to welcome Kilkenny City back to eircom League of Ireland football and welcome FC Carlow as they begin their first steps on Irish football's senior ladder.”
Dr. Tony O'Neill Under-20 eircom League of Ireland:
Pool 1: St Patrick's Athletic, Bray Wanderers, Shamrock Rovers, UCD, Kildare County, Athlone Town, Longford Town
Pool 2: Cork City, Cobh Ramblers, Limerick 37, Waterford United, Wexford Youths, Kilkenny City, FC Carlow
Pool 3: Derry City, Finn Harps, Sligo Rovers, Mervue United, Salthill Devon, Galway United
Pool 4: Dundalk, Drogheda United, Shelbourne, Bohemians, Monaghan United, Sporting Fingal