Mid Term Review
COLERAINE have reached the end of 2022 in terms of the NIFL Academy League and we have asked for a review on how our three teams have fared so far this campaign…
Our U16’s have won their last nine games which has saw Gary Devenney’s side propel to third spot in the table, with our U18’s finding their feet under a new management team.
The U20’s had a memorable European run with several players featuring in the Bannsiders’ route to the upcoming North-West Senior Cup final. However, boss Marty Smith has challenged his side to kick on domestically.
A newly assembled under 16’s finish the year in third position in the NIFL U16 League after a run of nine wins from nuine games. Their season started off with two tough fixtures at home to Dungannon and Linfield and even though both resulted in defeat, their performances where encouraging.
Since then they’ve scored an impressive 37 goals and only conceded once in the last nine games. As well as being able to compete at the top end of the league, a number of U16s have been part of U18s and U20s squads plus being invited to train with the first team.
Our under 16’s have a short break before returning to action on January 7 with a home game versus Warrenpoint Town.
The overwhelming feeling within the U18 squad so far this season is one of frustration. With a new management team in place, on the training ground, the players have been developing nicely without getting the rewards that their efforts and performance deserve.
On a more positive note these performances have seen a number of the U18’s featuring regularly in the U20’s squad with the potential of a few more breaking through in the New Year. Another success this season so far has been two of the squad currently in the final 25 of the Northern Ireland Schoolboys U18 trials and we wish them luck with their progress.
There is a lot of optimism going forward and the squad look forward to getting back into league action after a short break when on January 6 they make to trip to Warrenpoint Town.
Hopefully our results will start to match our performance levels in the New Year.
A mixed season to date for our U20’s with the highlights being a memorable run in Europe as they took part in the UEFA Youth League. A memorable tie and victory over North Macedonian club side FC Pobeda set up an exciting tie against Belgium giants KC Genk. This proved a step too far as Genk came away with a comfortable victory over two legs but a great learning curve for the players and coaching staff. The experience of travelling to North Macedonia and Belgium to play In European competition has undoubtedly helped the players’ development.
Domestically it has been an inconsistent period with mixed results. A very young side, the youngest in the league, who are learning and improving every week at this level. Many of the squad have made their debuts and performed well in the North West Senior Cup and have the final to look forward to in mid January. The squad will hope to push on in the second half of the season and become more consistent with the performances and aim to get into the top half of the table.
The squad continues to play over the festive period with a game at home to Newry City on December 30, before making the short trip to Ballymena United in early January.