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Donnelly: Reward For Long-Term Efforts

26 April 2017

Academy Manager On Youth Team's Cup Final Success

Ciaran Donnelly was delighted to see some long-term hard work and effort rewarded with a trophy at youth team level last night, despite the under-18s not hitting top form. 

The Seasiders fought back twice in 90 minutes to draw 2-2 with Bury at Gigg Lane, taking the Lancashire FA Youth Cup final to penalties. 

Rowan Roache, Christian N'Guessan, Caleb Richards and Fin Sinclair-Smith all scored in the shoot-out, while Jack Sims denied Bury twice to help Blackpool lift the trophy for the first time since 2008. 

Speaking post-match, here's what the academy manager had to say...

Finding a way to win. 

We are disappointed with our performance on the night, we weren't at our best, but we have still found a way to win. We showed a lot of character and dug in there. I thought Bury were excellent on the night, I thought they played some great football with lots of energy and we couldn't cope with it. We stuck in there and we've come through in the end. 

It was a marvelous goal in the second-half to get us back in it from Sebastien and terrific penalties. Our 'keeper has obviously pulled out a couple of great saves to win it for us and we're delighted to pick up the trophy. 

Lessons from last season's final. 

It was a similar pattern to last year where we were really second best in terms of getting to the ball and possession. It looks like we may have learnt, we did hang in there and we came out with the win. 

Obviously we're all over the moon to win a trophy, it's great. There's only three trophies to play for in a season at under-18 level and these lads have all come through the academy system where they're not winning trophies, they're playing to develop. To come to this point and win the first one available to us is brilliant and we're hoping to cap off a good season with another one in a couple of weeks. 

First trophy as Academy Manager.  

I'm really pleased, we've put a lot of effort in with these boys and it has taken a lot of effort to assemble this team in the first place. We've had lots of meetings with parents convincing them to sign for Blackpool and we've put together a team that's really good this year, and one that has given us a lot of joy and positivity for their futures. We're hoping that they can all go on and have big futures in the game - that's the aim for us all. 

The penalty shoot-out. 

We lost in a penalty shoot-out competition a couple of months ago and we'd practiced them for two days leading up to that game and then didn't take great ones. The lads wanted to take penalties the day before this one and I just said 'no, make your decision on the night and go with it'. 

The penalties couldn't have been any better, they were all perfect penalties and Jack has made a habit of saving penalties over the course of the season. Although it wasn't his greatest night, it's finished on a terrifically high note for him on an individual basis and it's led to him winning the game for the team. 

Targeting a double. 

We've got two games to go and if we win the two games, we win the league. It'd be nice to win a league and cup double - I can't remember the last time that happened at Blackpool - so the lads have got to focus and work on our recovery now. We've got to get ready for two big games against Wrexham and Morecambe and look to improve our performance. Hopefully that leads us to being league champions.   

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