Northern Ireland’s Under-18 Schoolboys international team will begin their latest Centenary Shield campaign with a home tie against Scotland later today (2 March).
New manager Simon Nicks is confident his squad can do well in the annual competition which also features U18 Schoolboys teams from Wales, England and Republic of Ireland.
First up for Northern Ireland in this year’s Shield schedule is the game against the Scots at the Blanchflower Stadium in east Belfast today (7pm start).
The second outing for Nicks’ team is in Wales on Thursday 23 March. They will face the Welsh at Briton Ferry Llansawel AFC’s ground near Swansea (7pm kick-off).
Matchday three brings a home encounter against the Republic of Ireland on Thursday 30 March - and the Blanchflower Stadium will once again be the venue (7pm start).
Northern Ireland’s final game of their Centenary Shield campaign will see Nicks’ team take on England away on Friday 14 April. The venue is New Lodge, the home of Essex-based Billericay Town FC (7pm).
Although the U18 team’s first warm-up match for the competition saw them lose 3-1 to a strong Australia Schoolboys U18/U19 side in January, they bounced back last month with an emphatic 5-0 win against a Jersey U18 team before suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat against a Jersey U21 Select.
Northern Ireland last won the Centenary Shield in 2019, while they shared it with England in 2017. Frankie Wilson, who sadly passed away in October, was in charge of the team for both of those successes. He has been succeeded by Nicks, his former assistant.
The opening game of this year’s Shield was played last week. Scotland drew 0-0 with the Republic in Renfrew.
All the games in the competition, including today’s match, are being broadcast by streaming platform Recast. The link is: http://recast.tv/centenaryshield.
The Northern Ireland U18 Schoolboys squad for the Scotland game is as follows:
Goalkeepers – Rian Brown (Larne High School/Larne), Ryan Kerr (Breda Academy Belfast/Crusaders).
Defenders – Callan Farley (Ashfield High Belfast/Glentoran), Ben Walker (Larne High/Larne), Logan Wallace (Belfast Metropolitan College/Cliftonville), Odhran McCart (Larne High/Larne), Ben McGonigle (St Columb’s College Derry-Londonderry/Derry City).
Midfielders – Sean Brown (Larne High/Larne), Corey Smith (St Joseph’s College Enniskillen/Dungannon Swifts), Caolan Donnelly (Larne High/Larne), Oisin Devlin (St Columb’s College/Institute), Adhamh Towe (St Ronan’s College Lurgan/Dungannon Swifts), Jake Martin (Limavady High School/Coleraine), Joshua Ness (Grosvenor Grammar Belfast/Cliftonville).
Forwards - Michael Morgan (Rathmore Grammar Dunmurry/Cliftonville), Luca Doherty (Limavady Grammar/Coleraine), Charlie Chapman (Breda Academy/Carrick Rangers), Jack Hastings (Larne High/Larne).
Image: Northern Ireland U18 Schoolboys' midfielder Sean Brown (Larne FC)