Dundalk U17 WNL player Ciara Whyte was present at FAI HQ in Abbotstown on Wednesday afternoon to help with the launch of the new 2022 EA SPORTS National Underage League season which gets underway on the week ending Sunday, March 6th.

For the first time in the club’s history, we will have a team competing in the U17 Women’s National League alongside our boy’s teams at U14, U15, U17 and U19 level.

There have been a number of developments ahead of the 2022 season which will see an introduction of overage players in the U19 League so that senior players returning from injury or in need of game-time can take part.

Also, a limited number of players who are U15 will be allowed to play in the U14 League and those who are U16 will be allowed to play in the U15 League, in a progressive move designed to provide more opportunities for players.

Players in the U14 and U15 league will now also be guaranteed a minimum of 30 minutes playing time where matches will be 90 minutes, split into 3 x 30 minute periods.

“We’re delighted to launch the EA SPORTS National Underage Leagues for what should be a fantastic 2022 season,” said League of Ireland Academy Development Manager Will Clarke.

“We’ve introduced a number of developments for the upcoming campaign, including the introduction of overage players in the U19 league and we’ve also created more playing time opportunities for players to enhance their progression across the age groups.

The EA SPORTS National Underage Leagues 2022 season launch took place at FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin. The new season is set to start on the week ending Sunday, March 6. Pictured are, from left, Jacob Carroll of Galway United, Ciara White of Dundalk, Mark Scanlon, League of Ireland director, Aidomo Emakhu of Shamrock Rovers, Emma Ring of Shelbourne, Liam Murray of Cork City, and Sophie Quinn of Sligo Rovers. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

“The first phase of the season will begin on the week ending Sunday, March 6th with the second phase set to pit teams of a similar standard against each other on a National basis. I’d like to wish all players, staff and parents the best of luck for the upcoming season.”

EA SPORTS FIFA Marketing Director, James Salmon said: “We’re thrilled to once again support the National Underage Leagues this year and continue our long-standing partnership with the FAI.

“EA SPORTS National Underage Leagues 2021 season was monumental for young aspiring players as we got to witness many rising stars across all age groups showcase their talent, commitment and love for the sport.

“We’re honoured to once again continue our work with the National Underage League at a grassroots level and be part of the journey as they navigate their elite player pathway and we look forward to continuing to support clubs, players and fans across the country for Season 22”.

As part of the launch, it was unveiled that the EA SPORTS National U14 Cup will be named after Eddie Wallace, the renowned former coach who was a highly-regarded spotter and developer of talent who passed away in December 2021.

Also, the EA SPORTS National U15 Cup will also be renamed after Michael Hayes who passed away in September 2020. Waterford-born Michael was a long-serving administrator of the League of Ireland who worked in the FAI competitions department in various roles since 2002.