Dundalk Youths v Belvedere Preview
Dundalk FC Youth Development Officer Martin Connolly and the Youths management team Alan Browne and Raymond Trimble believe their players are “well capable of progressing” when they clash with Belvedere in the FAI Youth Cup Third Round at Oriel Park on Sunday morning (kick-off 11am), with the tie to be decided on the day with extra-time and penalties if required. The Dublin club are currently top of the Premier Division and provide the toughest possible task for Dundalk, who produced a scintillating display to defeat Lourdes Celtic 7-2 in the last round.
The young Lilywhites have incredibly not played competitively since that tie back on 14 November, but they have undergone a heavy training, gym and friendly programme to ensure they are ready for their biggest game of the season to date. “This game was due to be played on 12 December,” Browne explained, “but due to the bad weather it was postponed. We had the lads in the gym doing spinning classes etc. in the JJB Soccer Dome over the Christmas period, so our fitness levels are good. We also played three friendlies, against Muirhevnamor, Crumlin U18s and the Meath & District League squad, which myself and Mondo were more than pleased with. Some of the boys also took part in the friendly against the Irish International team; for them to be involved in such a game was great.
“We have two more training sessions before Sunday’s game so we’ll be well prepared,” he added. “All in all, things have worked out well in relation to preparation. We had a couple of lads with minor injuries last week but apart from the long-term injured Gerry McSorley we should have a full squad to choose from. Gerry should be back doing a bit in the next couple of weeks and we are looking forward to seeing him back in training. We know it will be a difficult game against Belvedere who are currently top of the Premier Division but we also know we have a strong squad to choose from and are well capable of progressing to the next round. The attitude the boys have shown so far has been exceptional, they train very hard and they know what myself and Mondo expect from them. We have no doubt we can win this game; we have every faith in the boys that they can win.
“The winners of the tie have a home draw against Wilton United from Cork,” Alan concluded, “so it’s a great incentive to get through this stage and be at home again in the next round, but I’m sure Belvedere will be thinking the same. We are hoping that we get good support from all football people around town, because like all Dublin teams that come to Oriel Park they will take plenty of support with them. I am sure it will be a good, entertaining game for all.” Dundalk FC Youth Development Officer Martin Connolly has praised the work of Browne, Trimble and the squad ahead of game. “In an ideal situation you would like a league game or two before you come up against a team like Belvedere,” Connolly said. “But, on the other hand, I have to pay tribute to Raymond Trimble, Alan Browne and the players. They have put in a tremendous amount of work over the last few weeks.
“They have played a number of games in preparation for this tie,” the former Dundalk goalkeeper added. “That was over Christmas, and they have done well in every game that they’ve played. I don’t see any reason at all why they should fear Belvedere. Of course, Belvedere will have five or six internationals. Historically, they are a tremendous side, but if I was a Dundalk Youths player, I’d look forward to it but I wouldn’t look with fear. Belvedere are the top team in the division. I think everybody knows now that we’re in the second division because it’s our first year back at that age group (U17s) and Belvedere would be the top team in the top division. But our players have got to aspire to play against them, because it’s well documented that Ian Foster has a small panel, so if anybody has any aspirations of playing League of Ireland football or to get through to our first team, they have to want to play against these players, and not fear playing against them.”
Dundalk first-team winger and former Belvedere schoolboy Ross Gaynor knows how difficult a test the side from the capital will provide. “You just have to look at the players that have come through Belvedere; they’re always a very good young side,” the 23-year-old, who moved to Millwall from Belvedere in 2002, said. “They have got great coaches. Like, I had Jimmy Jackson and John Moore. It was very, very good to work with those coaches. Obviously, the Youths have been doing well over the last while, so it should be a very good game. I’m probably going to come up and watch it. It’s a game to look forward to for the young players and hopefully they will do well.”