Derry City teenagers aiming for EA Sports U19s Enda McGuill Cup glory against Bohemians
Derry City U19s will be aiming to become only the second side in the club’s history to win the EA Sports U19s Enda McGuill Cup when they face Bohemians in tonight's final at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium (KO 7.45pm).
The Candy Stripes have secured the prestigious trophy only once, back in 2007 when they saw off Bray Wanderers in the final, and manager Gerald Boyle wants his young hopefuls to go out and express themselves in what he expects to be a tough test against the Dubliners.
“There’s no doubt about it, the final is going to be a really, really tight game,” admitted Boyle.
“Bohs academy is excellent. They have been churning out player after player over the last number of years so look, it’s going to be a really, really tough game.”
Boyle, who has been working alongside Shaun Holmes and Jim McGuinness, feels this evening’s showpiece final will be the first real taste of what it’s like to play senior football for his young Candy Stripes.
“Wednesday night’s final is a big occasion with all that comes with it. There’s that bit of pressure. There will be a crowd in and this is kind of preparation for what it’s going to be like if you go into that big arena with the first team,” he stated.
“The intensity of the game and all the pressure which comes with a cup final, it will definitely set the boys in good stead if they get that opportunity to play for the first team.”
This will be the first meeting of the clubs at youth level for a number of years and Boyle is looking forward to seeing his side, who qualified thanks to Michael Harris’ late strike against Treaty United in the semi-final, test themselves against Craig Sexton’s side.
“Bohs are the only team we haven’t played. We have played (Shamrock) Rovers, St Pat’s and Shelbourne, but we haven’t played Bohs. Even last year we didn’t play them either because the season came to an end,” he explained.
“The two teams haven’t played each other for a while and it means that Wednesday night’s final is going to be a really interesting game.”
Boyle has praised first team boss Ruaidhri Higgins and believes the club will continue to give youth a chance under the Limavady man’s stewardship.
“Ruaidhri has been absolutely brilliant. He has been really, really supportive,” he added.
“We played friendlies all around the country before we got going and he watched every game. He has shown a real interest in all the young boys and that’s the one thing about him, he’ll not hesitate to put a player in there. If he feels a player is good enough then he’ll throw him in, which he has done over the course of the season.
“There must be six or seven who have got a go at some stage throughout the year.”
And with free admission Boyle, a former Elite Performance Coach with ClubNI and Assistant Manager of the NI Regions Cup squad, is hoping the Derry faithful will come out in their numbers to support the local teenagers.
“Every bit of support the boys get will make a massive difference. You saw it with the first team over the last while, the supporters backing you, gives the players that extra five or 10 per cent," he insisted.
"It made all the difference against St Pat’s recently and it would be no different for these young boys. The more people that are there, the more it can help push them over the line and make it a bit more intimidating for Bohs.”