Northern Ireland Schoolboys off to a flier
Northern Ireland's Under 18 Schoolboy team got their season off to a fantastic start with two comprehensive wins on their tour of the Channel Islands.
The Schoolboys, managed by Frankie Wilson and Conor Marlin, started their preparations for the Centenary Shield with wins of Guernsey Under 21s and Jersey Under 19s.
On Monday, the Schoolboys beat Guernsey 6-0, with Curtis Dempster hitting a hat-trick, while Robbie McDaid, Gavin Whyte and Caolan Flanaghan all found the back of the net.
On Wednesday, at the Springfield Stadium, Northern Ireland won 4-0 against Jersey, with Adam Salley claiming a hat-trick. Glenavon man Robbie McDaid scored his second goal of the tour in another comfortable victory.
Reflecting on the tour, former Bangor manager Frankie Wilson said: “The hunger and desire we showed in the games gives us confidence ahead of the Centenary Shield.
“We worked as hard in the first minute as we did in the last. It was also important that when making our substitutions in each game it didn’t weaken us and the freshness helped push us on another level. Personally, as my first set of games at international level, I couldn’t have asked for any more.”
Wilson's fellow manager Conor Marlin agreed: “I was delighted with our performances, especially when you consider 12 of the 18 made their international debuts.
“I said when we started with the group we want them to play a certain style of passing football and the boys have taken on board what all we have asked of them.
“We had four strikers in the squad and all four scored, with two of the lads getting hat tricks. Hopefully we can keep that going in the Centenary Shield. Both opposition managers were very complementary on how we played.
“Our aim now is to take it into the bigger games.”
Northern Ireland's senior schoolboys travel to Scotland and the Republic of Ireland in March before hosting England and Wales in April, in what will be an exciting Centenary Shield competition for Northern Ireland.
The squad is made up of players who are either studying at college or are studying for their A Levels at school. Their Under 16 counterparts will play in the Sky Sports Victory Shield in October.