The first match is at Karjaa on Monday (14 September) and two days later the teams meet again at Mantsala.
Thirteen players were capped last season at Under 15 level in games against Belgium, Turkey, Estonia and Slovakia but the matches against Finland will be the first taste of international football for five boys. Two victories over Estonia and draws against Belgium and Slovakia show that the team is capable of a high standard of play but the trip to Finland will still be a stern test. Games between the teams have always been close.
An even sterner test is expected the following week when Poland are the visitors. Twelve years ago two goals from Jonny Evans ensured a 2-1 success over Poland at the Belgian International Tournament. Since then in a dozen meetings at Under 16 level six games have been drawn with Poland successful in the other six. The Northern Ireland team will be hoping for another victory when the sides clash at Queen’s Malone Playing Fields on Tuesday 22 September (kick-off: 3.00pm) while a large crowd at Comber on Thursday 24 September, (kick-off: 4.00pm), should be a spur to the players.
The Northern Ireland Schools’ Football Association is offering free entrance to any school or youth group wishing to attend these games against Poland. Any group wishing to gain free entrance should send their details by email to Edwin Ferris, NISFA Treasurer: firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain a group permit.
Northern Ireland Under 16 Squad
GOALKEEPERS: Rory Brown (Foyle College); Declan Dunne (De La Salle College).
DEFENDERS: Sean Wallace (De La Salle College); Adam McAleenan (Wellington College); Aaron Donnelly (St Patrick's Belfast); Daniel McKeown (St Colman's Newry); Keith Kearney (St Patrick's Armagh); Ian Maxwell (St Patrick's Dungannon).
MIDFIELDERS: Luke Ferguson (St Patrick's Dungannon); Marc McKenna (Rathmore); Jack Chambers (Banbridge Academy); Tom Mathieson (Bangor Grammar); Jordan McEneff (St Columb's College).
FORWARDS: Niall Owens (St Michael's Enniskillen); Josh Tipping (Campbell College); Leo Brown (RBAI); Andrew Scott (Drumragh Integrated College); Harry Robinson (Belfast Royal Academy).