Derry City U17 boss Gerald Boyle feels European clubs monitoring talent is good for League of Ireland

Derry City U17 manager Gerald Boyle is excited for the future of League of Ireland players and clubs.

By Kevin McLaughlin
Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 12:11 pm
Derry City U17's coaching staff Shaun Holmes, Eugene Ferry and Gerald Boyle (manager) pictured with Liverpool bound Trent Kone-Doherty with the youngster's Liverpool shirt.
Derry City U17's coaching staff Shaun Holmes, Eugene Ferry and Gerald Boyle (manager) pictured with Liverpool bound Trent Kone-Doherty with the youngster's Liverpool shirt.

Boyle, who has played his part in Trent Kone-Doherty’s imminent move to Liverpool in a few weeks time, feels that top quality sides from across Europe are now keeping a very close eye on talent from the league and believes that can only be encouraging for the game.

Only yesterday Cork City confirmed that young defender Cathal Heffernan is joining Serie A champions AC Milan, while later in the summer St Patrick’s Athletic centre-back James Abankwah is also moving to Italy to join Udinese and Dutch giants Feyenoord are thought to be keeping tabs on Saints right-back Sam Curtis.

“I think the whole landscape of Irish football has changed over the last number of years and it’s brilliant to see,” insisted Boyle.

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Trent Kone-Doherty pictured alongside his Derry City U17 team-mates and coaches as he receives a signed shirt from the club before making his switch to Liverpool.

“It’s not just clubs from England and Scotland who are looking at League of Ireland players, you now have players going to France, Italy and Germany and that’s good.

“I have to say I’m now in my third year with the academy and I have been really, really impressed by the underage structure throughout the League of Ireland and how it has been developing over the years.

“There’s some good young coaches coming through, they have put real thought into their training sessions and their tactics and that has meant you are getting better players churned out as a result. I do think it’s becoming a really healthy place for young players.”

Boyle, who worked alongside Declan Devine and Jim Magilton at the IFA’s Club NI programme for a number of years, feels Kone-Doherty’s switch to the mighty Liverpool could be just the start of players from the league making the move to top European clubs.

“I hope going forward that Trent might start the ball rolling and we start to get a steady flow of players, who firstly go onto play for Derry City and also some young players who go away to England or even to some of the top clubs in the world,” he added.

“It can happen so fast and I have told Trent and all our young academy players that within a few years you could be playing first team football. I have told them it’s well possible that you could be stepping out onto those big stadiums.

“Hopefully with a bit of luck we’re all switching on the TV in the Derry area to watch Trent stepping out at Anfield in the years to come.”

The Holy Cross College teacher believes in some cases players remaining at their club could also benefit them in the long term and he feels the model which Scandinavian clubs employ of producing young technically gifted players and selling them on to bigger European clubs, is something clubs up and down Ireland should consider.

“In some cases players are staying that bit longer and not going over too young and they are probably in a better place before they go over that little bit older,” he explained.

“At underage level you see players from St Pat’s, Bohs and Shamrock Rovers are investing so much in their academies, other countries have been doing it for years and if you put your work into your academy you can get players and if you can produce players to sell them on, which we probably have to do in Ireland, it can keep your club going for years and years.

“That is the kind of model that the Scandinavian clubs, small lower English teams and some of the smaller Scottish clubs have been doing that for years, so for us I think that’s the way forward and if we keep churning the players out from the Derry and North West area that can, in the long term, help the club.

“What we have to do in terms of helping the younger players technically and tactically, physically they go across the water in real good shape and as I said that money, if we do sell them on, is essential to taking the club to the next level.”

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