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Shels look to nurture talent ahead of chasing silverware

IT'S all about the big picture at Shelbourne. The cups and medals can wait.

Gerry Doyle knew all about moulding bright young footballers. And that theme still flows down the River Tolka.

Dermot Keely is the boss these days. He won't be short of talented players coming from within the club.

"There's pressure at other clubs to win trophies, but that's not the case here," explains Johnny Tyndall of the Shelbourne 14 Premier side.

"Results are not the priority. It's all about producing players for the first team. Our aim is to develop players for the League of Ireland side."

Shels hit the big-time back in 2004. Deportivo de la Coruna in Lansdowne Road. A breath away from the group stages of the Champions League. Happy days for the much missed Ollie Byrne.

A spin off from that occasion has seen the Shelbourne schoolboys being invited each year to the prestigious Franco Gallini Tournament in Pordenone, North of Venice.

It's a three-day competition. The 14's travel out on March 31st. There will be some quality sides competing.

"We hope to do the jersey proud. We know we'll be meeting some excellent teams and we are looking forward to it," says Johnny.

There will be sides there from Brazil, Japan, Romania, America, Lavatia, Montenegro, Rapid Vienna, Udinese and Crystal Palace.

Palace, Shels and the USA are the only three English speaking representatives taking part. It will be a brilliant experience for the young Dubliners and another step in their football education.

"Our schoolboy section is doing well," adds Johnny. "We have plenty of players coming through.

"Shels have a team in the A division of the League of Ireland, so that's another good avenue for us to allow players to take the step up.

"Presently there are about 30 players in the League of Ireland who have come up through the ranks here. So that proves the schoolboy department is doing it's job."

MNS well worth a look!

TUNE in tonight - Monday Night Soccer. A gem of a programme. It's on for an hour. Paul McGee was in the studio last week. Still the King of the Showgrounds.

He'll forever be a cult hero in Sligo. And there's no shortage of those - Tony Stenson, David Pugh, Tony Fagan and the great Johnny Chadda.

Ski McGee helped Sligo to the League title in 1977. The Showgrounds was bursting that day. Paul Magee, Jimmy's son, was playing for the Shams.

Sadly, Paul Magee of the Hoops has passed on. He was a model player. He had some marvellous years with the Orchard in the company of the one and only Jackie Jameson.

The John Wilkes university taught so much. The pace and goal-scoring ability of Ski McGee saw him take his boots all over the world. And he earned a cluster of senior international caps.

They'll never forget that day in Sligo. The home Rovers won 3-1 to take the title. After the game, somebody gave the legendary Philip Greene a red and white hat. He wore it in the commentary box.

There's electricity in the air on these Friday nights. Bringing a schoolboy team to watch it unfold at the likes of Belfield, Bray, Richmond Park, Tallaght, Dalymount, Tolka or the Morton Stadium would represent a good night's work.

It's the top standard in the country. Young players would learn so much. And maybe even aspire to playing there themselves someday.

Nearer fields very often turn out to be the greenest of all. With it's housework coming back into shape, and so many first-class young footballers coming up through the grades, it's future might be a lot brighter than people think.