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Donnelly: A Positive Season

12 May 2016

Coach Reflects On Youth Team's Campaign

Ciaran Donnelly described his first season in charge of the Blackpool Youth Team as a success, with recognition coming from a number of different angles throughout the campaign.

On the pitch, the under-18s impressed, finishing fifth in the North West Youth Alliance, before reaching the final of the Lancashire FA Professional Youth Cup. 

Meanwhile, Macauley Wilson’s progression was rewarded with a professional deal and Rowan Roache stepped onto the international stage with the Republic of Ireland’s under-16s.

Academy Manager Donnelly is now in charge of the under-18s and believes the good news stories deserve recognition.

“Overall it’s been a positive season,” he explained. “The second year scholars have been a great group to work with and have been a really honest set of lads.

“Macauley has signed a professional contract and is ready to move up next year, while Bright (Osayi-Samuel) is still an under-18s player but played with the first-team all year.

“We reached a cup final which was a brilliant achievement then finished fifth in the league, and although we’d like to be top two or three, it’s still been a good season.

“’Macca’ was offered the deal but others will go on to other things. Unfortunately, some didn’t get to the next level but hopefully will forge careers elsewhere in the football world.”

The pinnacle moment of their season came at Boundary Park last month in the cup final and, although Pool’s young side were beaten 3-0 by Oldham Athletic, Donnelly insists those that remain with the club will learn from the experience.

“Without making excuses, Oldham played an experienced under-18s team and we were in the process of experimenting.

“In the long-term the lads will learn from playing in a stadium against strong players, in front of important people watching.

“They should come out of that thinking ‘that’s where I want to get to next and when the chance comes I’m going to know how to perform’," he added. 

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