Northern Ireland’s U18 Schoolboys international team will begin their quest for 2020 Centenary Shield glory on Friday (6 March).
Last year’s U18 squad won the shield – and the 2020 squad are aiming to retain the trophy under the guidance of team manager Frankie Wilson.
The Schoolboys team, run by the Northern Ireland Schools’ FA with support from the Irish Football Association, will be competing against England, Scotland, Wales and Republic of Ireland for the SAFIB (Schools Association Football International Board) Centenary Shield.
The Scots are their first opponents, with the game taking place in Beith on Friday (1pm start). Game two is against Wales at The Dub in south Belfast on Wednesday 11 March (2pm), while Wilson’s boys will take on England at Portadown’s Shamrock Park on Friday 27 March (7pm). Their final game of the campaign is against the Republic’s Schoolboys on Wednesday 29 April in Buncrana, Co Donegal (2pm).
Manager Frankie Wilson believes his side will need to be at their best to get a result against the Scots.
He pointed out: “Our preparations have gone well but we know we will have to bring our A game on Friday. Every game we have played against Scotland has been decided by the odd goal.”
James Green from St Columb’s College in Derry-Londonderry has been added to Wilson’s coaching team, which also features Simon Nicks and Eamon Curry. Bob Ramsey continues in his role as secretary.
Wilson added: “It is amazing how quick the Centenary Shield comes around again. We have been preparing for this game for five months. With our extensive trial process we believe we have chosen the best U18 players from all over Northern Ireland.
“We are also fortunate in that we have some players who were part of our Centenary Shield winning team last year, namely captain Trai Hume, Callum McVeigh and goalkeeper David Walsh.”
The U18 Schoolboys’ final preparation game for the competition saw them pick up a piece of silverware. They won the Lynne Nicholson Trophy last month with a convincing 3-0 victory over Jersey in St Helier.
Northern Ireland U18 Schoolboys Centenary Shield squad v Scotland:
Goalkeepers - David Walsh (Portadown College/Linfield), Oisin Gibson (Holy Cross Strabane/Derry City).
Defenders - Corai Quinn (NIFL Academy/Glentoran), Callum McVeigh (Down High School/Portadown), Shea Conway (Lismore Comprehensive/Dungannon Swifts), Dylan Snoddon (St Mary’s CBGS/Cliftonville), Peter Bell (South West College Dungannon/Glenavon).
Midfielders - Trai Hume (NIFL Academy/Linfield), Jamal Tavares (Enniskillen Grammar/Ballinamallard United), Odhran Casey (Edmund Rice College/Cliftonville), James Clarke (Our Lady and St Patrick’s Knock/Glentoran), Joshua Archer (Ashfield Boys’ High/Linfield), Jack Deveney (Limavady High School/Limavady United), Terry Devlin (St Mary’s Magherafelt/Dungannon Swifts).
Forwards - James Teelan (Southern Regional College/Dungannon Swifts), Peter McKiernan (Edmund Rice College/Cliftonville), John McGovern (Abbey CBS Newry/Newry City).
Image: Northern Ireland’s U18 Schoolboys celebrate their Centenary Shield success in 2019.