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READ | Academy staff reflect on 2018/19 season

3 May 2019

As the season draws to a close caught up with academy coaches Ciaran Toner and Steven Mundell who explained the current processes underway with departing second year scholars and the next batch of first years for next season.

Firstly Ciaran, who oversees the under 18 age group, gave an update on who will be staying and what will be happening with those who are set to depart the academy setup.

He said:

“We've made decisions now with our second year scholars. We have one player who has been fortunate enough to have been awarded a professional contract. Unfortunately some lads have not quite made the level that is expected here, but we wish them all the best for their future.

“Our involvement as a football club just doesn't end there. We'll be working with those who are departing to support them in their next career path, whether that is within the game or elsewhere.

“There is potential perhaps for some lads to go to America. We have seen that work successfully in the past with former scholars like Jack Osborne and Ross Dickinson.”

Steven, who looks after the under 16s, has, alongside Ciaran, been looking at ways of integrating the next age group, by offering some early experiences of under 18 football.

He said:

“There is now an opportunity for some of the younger lads to come in and get some experience of playing at under 18 level. We have some new scholars coming through, so the more experience we can give them, the more prepared they will be for what is to come over the next two years.

“We have also used the recent holidays to try and integrate the current under 16 age group into the under 18s. They have trained with the 18s during that time which has given them an insight as to what it'll be like next year. Some of the under 16s have also been selected recently for under 18 fixture, further assisting with the integration process.  

"Meanwhile, Ciaran McGuckin has been named in the under 16 Northern Ireland squad for a development tournament in Bulgaria. They are playing Luxembourg, Bulgaria and Wales in the competition.”

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