Joint coach Brian O’Neill thrilled as Institute squad claim U16 title

Institute joint coach Brian O’Neill was delighted after his side claimed the O’Neill’s Foyle Cup Under 16 title on Saturday.

John Murphy from O'Neill's presenting the O'Neill's Foyle Cup Under-16's Cup to Institute captain Oisin Devlin at the Brandywell on Saturday. Picture by Keith Moore
John Murphy from O'Neill's presenting the O'Neill's Foyle Cup Under-16's Cup to Institute captain Oisin Devlin at the Brandywell on Saturday. Picture by Keith Moore

The Drumahoe club got the better of Manchester side Wythenshawe Amateurs Leopards 3-0 thanks to goals from Sam Dougherty, Aaron McLaughlin and Calum Ming and O’Neill was pleased to see ’Stute maintain their impeccable defensive record which saw them claim the silverware without conceding a single goal throughout the tournament.

“The boys were brilliant from Monday right through to Saturday and I can’t praise them enough,” insisted O’Neill.

“Their intensity levels were really, really good. They have done everything that myself and Kenny (Crockett) asked of them and thankfully they’ve got the success for all the hard work they have put in over the last few weeks and months.”

O’Neill was especially thrilled for his goalkeeper son, Cormac, who navigated the week without being beaten once, though the Institute coach was quick to stress everyone in the squad had played their part in that amazing statistic.

“We didn’t concede a goal so credit to the defence and the goalkeeper but, to be honest, credit to all the lads because everyone played their part in it,” he explained.

“We asked everyone throughout the team to play with a high intensity. We asked them to press from the front, that’s right through from the forwards to the midfielders to everyone in the squad and we really did press teams high. That meant that our goalkeeper had very little to do apart from a lot of football work with his feet.”

The Waterside man like so many other coaches, players and supporters was delighted to see the Foyle Cup return after an enforced two year break because of Covid.

“It’s great to win the U16 section, but it’s brilliant that the Foyle Cup is back,” he explained.

“It’s great to play different teams from different countries. On Saturday the team we beat were from Manchester and there are teams from Scotland, all over Ireland, England and Europe in the tournament. That’s what young players really enjoy.

“Yes it’s great to play local teams in the D&D and stuff like that, but young players want to play different teams so to have the Foyle Cup back is great.

“Tournament football is not just about the 1 to 11, it’s about the whole squad and everyone of them played their part this week.”

O’Neill hopes over the next 12 months or so that some of this squad will be pushing for a place in Brian Donaghey’s first team squad.

“Most of the squad have only been together for less than an year and they’ll be playing in the NIFL league this season,” he said.

"They’re still learning and they’re still developing but hopefully Saturday’s win and the performances throughout the week will give them the confidence that maybe some of them, despite being 15-16 years old, they’ll be knocking on the door of the first team this year and we’ll see how that goes.”

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