Young Blues Take on Irish U18s
Wednesday, 14th Aug 2013 16:51
An Irish U18 development squad has taken on young Blues sides in two friendlies at Playford Road over the last couple of days. On Tuesday, an U21 team beat the visitors 3-0, while a match against Town’s U18s ended 3-3 earlier this afternoon.
Tuesday’s Blues side was essentially scholars plus the likes of Anthony Wordsworth, Jack Doherty, Jack Marriott (pictured), Tom Winter, David October and Mark Timlin.
Marriott opened the scoring after a cut back from Doherty, who later limped off with an ankle injury.
Trialist Jordan Adekunle added a second shortly after the break, then Town added a third late on when Marriott scored from the penalty spot after Winter had been fouled.
This afternoon, it was an U18 Town side largely made up of first-year scholars which took part in an entertaining 3-3 draw against the same Irish squad.
Ronan Curtis put Ireland ahead in the fifth minute, but two minutes later Joe Robinson crossed from the left and Cemal Ramadan – himself an Irish U16 international – bundled the ball home from close range to make it 1-1.
The goals continued to flow, Cory Galvin making a superb break down the right and crossing for Josh Fagbohan - a trialist from Chelmsford – to slam home.
Blues keeper Sam McDermid had made a superb block as the visitors appeared certain to draw level, however, moments prior to the break, Ireland did get back on terms when Matt Clarke was somewhat harshly adjudged to have committed a foul inside the area.
Ireland striker Ryan Manning – who spent time training with the Blues academy as a schoolboy – took the spotkick and beat McDermid, who just couldn’t get enough on the ball to stop it.
Soon after the restart, Byron Lawrence saw a strike from the edge of the box well saved before Ireland went back in front in the 53rd minute via Darragh Black‘s well-struck shot from just inside the box.
Two minutes later, the Blues levelled it again after more excellent work from Galvin. The Irish U17 international brought the ball forward before laying it to the right, into the path of Ramadan, who smashed it into the roof of the net.
Surprisingly there were no further goals in the remaining 40 minutes, although Ireland went close to winning it late on only for Town to clear the ball off the line.
Irish coach Stephen O'Mahony felt the matches were very useful for his players, who included Daryl Murphy's nephew, defender Shane Mackey: “For the lads to come over and play in these two very competitive games it was a very, very good learning experience for them and also a very positive thing for their development as well.
“The game yesterday was of a really good standard and the boys had to work really hard just to stay with them.
“When we had a chat afterwards they realised that as you go up the levels it’s just that little bit quicker, the movement is that little bit quicker and the decision-making is a little bit quicker. It’s been a big experience for the players.”
He says his players are at the stage where they are hoping for moves to senior clubs in Ireland or England: “They’re part of the development squad, most of them come from our emerging talent programme back home.
“They’ve just finished that programme this year and they’re looking to move on now to the next level and develop themselves for maybe playing in the League of Ireland or maybe some of them might be lucky enough to get a club in England.”
For Town, Gerard Nash says games like these give the academy a chance to run the rule over promising Irish talent: “It’s an opportunity for us to have a look at some of their players.
“We’ve signed Jack Doherty in the last few weeks, so those players are of a similar sort of age and a similar sort of standard.
He says the Irish players won’t have been used to the plush surroundings of Playford Road: “What was very good today was that you saw how hungry the players were to come and play here.
“They’re very hungry. They’ve grown up in a different environment to the lads here who are given every chance to be whatever they want, they’ve got everything in place for them to do that.
“The lads from Ireland haven’t got anything like the support that the lads have in our academy. They’ve grown up in a different way, a different environment and they’ve got a real toughness about them and a desire to become footballers. Something which is very important in players.
“I thought they had some very good players, they acquitted themselves very well and there were five or six players who were very good.”
TWTD is an academy sponsor, read more about the Academy Association here.
Photo: Action Images
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