It was graduation evening for the Irish FA JD Academy in collaboration with UEFA at the Hilton Hotel Templepatrick last night.
The event was attended by academy staff and players alongside special guests Gerard Lyttle, the Northern Ireland U17s / U19s manager, and Kyle Ferguson from Ulster University.
Gerard presented certificates to the departing Year 12 players for their successful completion of the two-year UEFA Elite Youth Player Development Programme. Kyle presented certificates from Ulster University School of Sport recognising the young players’ leadership and character development.
Luca Doherty won the Player of the Year Award (Year 11) while Callum Marshall and Caolán Donnelly were joint winners of the Player of the Year Award (Year 12).
The Players’ Player of the Year (Year 11) was shared between Brendan Hamilton, Lorcan Donnelly, Fra Turley and Josh Briggs. Josh was also the Player of the Month for May.
The Players’ Player of the Year (Year 12) was won by Josh Roney who was also named Player of the Month for April.
The Most Improved Person awards for all round improvement across all aspects of Academy life and personal development were collected by Bobby Harvey (Year 11) and Caolán Donnelly (Year 12).
Carmel Fyfe, Elite Performance Operations Manager, said: “We are delighted with how far all the Academy players have come on over the past two years and even in such difficult times, they kept up the hard work and continued to focus on their development.
“While they have certainly been challenged every step of the way, the reward is seeing their progression; seeing their desire to keep improving; and to hear how much they have loved the experience.
“These young players have been a credit to themselves, their families, schools, clubs and Northern Ireland and tonight’s event is a chance to recognise this. We wish the boys every success and are incredibly proud to have them as part of our Northern Ireland Academy Alumni.”
Olivier Doglia, Senior Football Development Expert, UEFA, commented: “Congratulations to the players on their graduation from the Academy. It is very rewarding to see how well they have developed during their two years in the UEFA Elite Youth Player Development Programme and to hear how much they have benefitted from the opportunity.
“These young players have worked hard on their football development, schooling, and all-round personal development. Now, my hope is to see them use the experience gained to give them the best chance of success as they move on to the next part of their development.”