GERALD Boyle said Northern Ireland’s momentuous Victory Shield triumph had been four years in the making.
The U16 supremo guided the boys in green to only a second ever Shield success after defeating Wales 3-1 in Tralee on Friday. Earlier in the week the Strabane man had watched his charges defeat the Republic of Ireland 3-1 and draw 1-1 with Scotland, despite playing more than half that game with 10 men.
The remarkable triumph was firmly rooted in Tyrone given five members of the victorious squad play for Dungannon United Youth (DUY).
They included North Tyrone lad, Connor Bradley, who captained the side, Vicky Saldanha, Terry Devlin, Aaron Donnelly and Shane McAllister.
Boyle insisted winning the Victory Shield had been the culmination of a lot of hard graft.
“For myself and Deccy (Devine) a lot of hard work had come to fruition not to mention that of the coaches before us,” he said.
“It was a four year process and to see the fruits of it at the end up was brilliant. Club NI is allowing the best to train with the best and I do think there is benefit in that extra contact time.
“You look at what is being done here compared to Scotland and we are still 10-15 hours a week behind. There is still a deficit there hours wise and whatever we can do to close the gap can only be good.
“You want the better players training with the better players pushing each other on.
“The other big thing was the games programme where players were exposed to playing against the best clubs in Europe over the four years in the lead up to the Victory Shield.”
Boyle said he was quietly confident going into the competition given that team was attacked minded and had players with an eye for goal.
Keeping goals out at the opposite end was the big challenge but the team manager was delighted how his players had acquitted themselves.
“At the competition itself we were excellent against the Republic, against Scotland it was an even first half and then we were reduced to 10 men,” he continued.
“Once we got organised at half-time I thought we played the half of our lives, we changed formation four times in that game, picked Scotland off and could have won the game.
“The last game was the worst of the three performances because we just wanted to get across the line. It wasn’t the most free-flowing performance plus there were a lot of tired legs.”
The under-16s are off to Poland next week for a double header and that squad includes Sion Mills lad, Oisin Gibson and Daryl Porter, Strabane.
Posted: 8:40 am November 23, 2018