Northern Ireland Under 18s set for Centenary Shield opener
Northern Ireland Schools Under 18 managers Conor Marlin and Frankie Wilson have named a squad of 18 players for their opening game in the Centenary Shield at Eastleigh on Friday March 6 (kick-off 7pm).
Coleraine centre-back Lyndon Kane, who played last season, returns to the squad. There is a wealth of experience in the squad, as six other players also played for last year's Under 18 team which finished as runners-up in the Centenary Shield while several other players have been capped at Under 17 level. That experience will be vital against a strong England side which will be determined to retain the Centenary Shield.
Northern Ireland has an excellent record on English soil. In eight meetings, the English have only been successful twice. Two years ago, the game ended in a 1-1 draw in Plymouth, while before that, Northern Ireland came out on top 2-0 at Telford and 1-0 at Macclesfield.
Following the game at Eastleigh, Northern Ireland will host the Republic of Ireland at Ferney Park, Ballinamallard on St Patrick's Day, (kick-off 5pm).
Frankie Wilson commented: "This is a tough start to our Centenary Shield campaign. England are the current champions, while the Republic has also lifted the shield in recent years. Success in these two opening games would help us greatly in our quest to regain the championship".
Northern Ireland have an impressive record in the Centenary Shield, winning it four times outright (1996, 1998, 1999, 2013) and sharing another three titles (2005, 2009, 2011).
The Northern Ireland Schools’ Football Association is offering free entrance to any school or youth group wishing to attend the home game against the Republic of Ireland at Ballinamallard. Any group wishing to gain free entrance should send their details by email to Edwin Ferris, NISFA Treasurer, at firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain a group permit.
Northern Ireland Under 18 Squad:
Goalkeepers - Jack Ferguson (Larne High), Jason Craughwell (St Colm's Twinbrook).
Defenders - Jamie Rea (Belfast Metropolitan College), Michael McKenna (St Louis Ballymena), Ryan Noble-Walker (Our Lady & St Patrick's College), Conor Morgan (St Malachy's College), Callum Byers (Grosvenor), Lyndon Kane (North Coast Integrated College).
Midfielders - Ben Doherty (St Columb's College), Conor McDermott (St Columb's College), Jamie Dunne (St Brigid's College), Andrew Drylie (Wallace High School), Mark Sykes (St Mary's CBGS), Ronan Wilson (St Joseph's Derry).
Forwards - Brad Lyons (Northern Regional College), Andrew Hoey (Belfast Metropolitan College), Adam Salley (Southern Regional College), Andrew Mooney (South East Regional College).
Belfast Telegraph Digital