Five Derry City youngsters to feature in Victory Shield tournament
FIVE DERRY City youngsters will be involved in the prestigious Victory Shield tournament which kicks-off in Belfast this Sunday representing Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland's respective under-16 squads.
Talented 15 year-old Candy Stripes striker Trent Kone Doherty, who starred for the Republic's U17 squad in UEFA European Championships qualifying wins over Macedonia and Poland this week, has been named in Paul Osam's Victory Shield side.
Osman won his second of two Victory Shields in Belfast in 2017 – a successful defence of the title he claimed a year previously in Scotland and will be confident of securing a third title for the Boys in Green.
"Speaking about the competition, Osam said it is the perfect tournament to ready Under-16s players for competitive football at Under-17s level: “When you come up against Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland you can’t call this a friendly tournament, they’re competitive games with an added edge of playing against your neighbours.
“We’ve had two wins in four appearances of this competition, which is a good return and with this group of players we’ll be pushing for another."
A further four of Derry's top Academy prospects, striker Ciaran O'Hara, midfielder Ben McGonigle and defenders Ádhamh Patton and Kyle McCloskey will feature for Northern Ireland's Victory Shield squad.
All five players have been selected following their impressive performances with the Derry City U15 squad under the management of Conor Loughrey and his assistants Rory Kehoe and Danny Lafferty.
Speaking to 'The Jungleview' after the announcement, a delighted Loughrey said the international recognition Derry City youngsters were getting was a sign the Brandywell club's Academy is 'moving in the right direction'.
“I feel they fully merit their call-ups and we have one or two others very unlucky to be missing out this time around," said the Derry coach. “The boys have bought into every aspect of what we've been trying to do and now they're reaping the rewards. We have been intense and demanding of them to challenge their development and they've responded brilliantly.
“We are very proud of their achievements up to now. Having such a sizable representation at prestigious international tournaments such as the Victory Shield and the European Championship Qualifiers is a sign that the work going on within the club has us moving in the right direction.," he added.
“We must also recognise all the other stakeholders in the player’s development up to now. Their previous clubs, schools, their families, even the contribution of their other sports and programmes they have been involved in. They have all played their part in getting the players to this point.”
Loughrey has also been encouraged by the significant increase in international call-ups during the 2021 campaign.
“We have had over 25 academy players invited to international assessments this season with 17 of those currently involved in underage international squads, that's an incredible return.
“We are a club and a region known for late developers and our players have generally come into their own and emerged from an apparent nowhere at around 19 or 20.
“With the work that's going on throughout the club to identify and then nurture the best talent available to us, I think we can strive to have even more representation over the next year or two.”
The competition takes place from October 16th to 23rd. Fixtures are as follows; Sunday, October 17th: Scotland v ROI at H&W Welders 3pm; N. Ireland v Wales at Seaview 3pm; Tuesday, October 19th; Wales v ROI at Seaview 3pm; N. Ireland v Scotland at H&W Welders 3pm; Friday, October 22nd; ROI v N Ireland at H&W Welders 1:30pm; Wales v Scotland at H&W Welders 11am.