NORTHERN Ireland U18 Schoolboys’ defender, Eoin Toal insists he’s been keeping tabs on Derry City since Christmas and is ‘excited’ about finally making his move to full-time football on Foyleside.
The Armagh City centre half is set to complete his transfer to the Candy Stripes when the summer Transfer Window opens on July 1st next after both clubs agreed a deal.
The prospect of playing in the League of Ireland and training full-time was something Toal felt was too good to turn down and the ambitious teenager is delighted to be handed the opportunity by City boss, Kenny Shiels who believes the player has real potential.
“It’s very exciting and I just can’t wait to get up there and get going,” enthused Toal last night. “I’ll be up this weekend and start training next week from Monday on.
“Armagh and Derry have agreed I will sign for Derry whenever the transfer window opens in July. Kenny (Shiels) will have me up training until then.
“I’ve been down five or six times and all the lads have been very welcoming. They treat you like one of their own and it’s a very good standard. It’ll be interesting to see how training every day is different to what I normally do but hopefully I get the hang of things quickly.
I’ve been keeping tabs on them since Christmas once I heard I was going to sign. I’ve been following the league a lot since then and have been keeping up to date with how Derry is doing every week.Eoin Toal
“I wanted to play full-time. I want to play football every day and it’s great to be given the opportunity to do so.
“It’s going to take me a while to get settled in but I can’t wait.”
Since becoming aware of Derry’s interest last December, Toal has been keeping a close eye on how the Candy Stripes’ season has unfolded and he’s been impressed.
Describing himself as a ball-playing centre half, Toal is the product of the Armagh City Youth Academy where he rose rapidly through the ranks, having graduated from the mini soccer to youth football before he broke into the Armagh City senior team last season. And he reckons he will fit well into Shiels’ style of football at Derry.
“I’ve been keeping tabs on them since Christmas once I heard I was going to sign,” he continued. “I’ve been following the league a lot since then and have been keeping up to date with how Derry is doing every week.
“I’m only 18 years-old so hopefully I can get used to the full-time aspect and improve. The aim is to try and get in around the first team, train everyday with the firsts. I’ll give what it takes to get in and around the team.
“I like to get the ball down and play. That’s what I would be used to with the N. Ireland set-up as well, playing out from the back. When I come back to Armagh the teams I’m up against play direct football and it’s harder to cope with. Watching Derry I could see they like to play out from the back and that suits me.
“I’ve good heading ability. I’m not the strongest but I hope to make best use of Derry’s facilities to improve in that department. I’m more of a footballing type of centre half but I like to be aggressive as well.”
Toal’s ultimate aim is to secure a move to England in the future and he believes Derry City can offer him the best platform and help develop his game.
“The N. Ireland Under-19s are coming up soon and hopefully with playing for Derry now it will give me a really good shot of getting in.
“The long term ambition is to get over to England. But at the moment it’s about getting up to Derry and doing well and hopefully get a couple of first team appearances this season. My focus is on Derry now and breaking into the first team.”
City boss, Kenny Shiels insists Toal must ‘grab the bull by the horns’ in order to fulfil his potential.
“He’s captain of the N. Ireland Under-18s and he’s a boy who needs to get full-time football to help develop his game,” said Shiels.
“He’s just turned 18 and is a good size. He has to grab the bull by the horns and have the desire to be a top central defender and I think he has those qualities.”