IRELAND Under-18 Schools manager Paddy O’Reilly insists this year’s successful Centenary Shield campaign paints a positive picture of domestic football.
Following last Friday’s sellout crowd at the Cork City-Dundalk showdown, the national landscape of the League of Ireland has come in for criticism because of its inability to match the support at Turner’s Cross. Ironically, 24 hours earlier a first-half goal from Cork player Conor Ellis in Edinburgh ensured the Schoolboys in Green ended their title-winning campaign unbeaten.
Having regained the Centenary Shield after a five-year gap the previous week thanks to a famous win over England in Sligo, last Thursday’s 1-1 draw in Scotland secured one of their most successful campaigns ever.
With O’Reilly’s squad made up of young stars - mainly based with League of Ireland Under-19 clubs - from the four corners of the country, the Trinity Comprehensive Ballymun PE teacher insists Irish domestic football has been vindicated by their achievement.
“I personally think this is a great advertisement for young men staying in Ireland to finish their education alongside their football ambitions,” said O’Reilly. “Most of our lads are LOI Under-19 players and their clubs are doing a great job, making them players who can win an international competition. The League of Ireland gets a lot of bad press, but these are the future stars of the league and some - like Seamus Coleman, who played with this team - will go even higher,” added O’Reilly.
IRELAND (u18 schoolboys): Corey Chambers (Gorey CS, Wexford), Dan Tobin (Oatlands, Mount Merrion), Evan Osam (Col Chilliain, Clondalkin), Conor McCarthy (Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal), Paul Murphy (Gorey CS, Wexford), Aaron Robinson (St Benildus, Stillorgan), Cian Coleman (Col Chriost Rí, Cork), Ethan Boyle (Wexford VS), Conor Ellis (Col Pobail Bheanntrai), Darragh Markey (Col Phádraig, Lucan CBS), Jason McClelland (Old Bawn CS), Seán McSweeney (Col Mhuire, Askeaton), Mark Buckley (MICC Dunmanway), Nathan Benson (Rockbrook Park), Conor Melody (St Joseph’s Coll, Galway), Lee McCarron (Crana College, Buncrana), Daire O’Connor (Gaelcholaiste na Mara, Arklow), Troy Carey (St Paul’s CBS, Brunswick St).
The 2015 FAI Schools Centenary Shield campaign can be seen on ClubApp (iOS & Android). A live scoring platform with team sheet graphics and stats automated from updates, you can sign your club up for live scoring at clubapp.ie