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Monday 22 Jan 2024
JD Academy and Australia produce a thriller

An Under-16/Under-15 team from the Irish FA JD Academy drew 4-4 with a U17/U16 Australia Schoolboys’ side in an action-packed and highly entertaining game in Belfast this evening.


International Friendly


JD Academy/NI 4-4 Australia U17/U16


Northern Ireland: McCart (9’), Graham (15’ pen), Burns (60’), Zsusza OG (83’)

Australia: Dobson (8’), Porter (27’), Henderson (53’), Nealon (64’)


Blanchflower Stadium, Belfast


22 January 2024

Team News

All the players in the 22-strong Northern Ireland squad currently attend the Irish FA JD Academy based at Ulster University’s Jordanstown campus, and Kris Lindsay is the team’s head coach.

The academy boys will represent Northern Ireland in the Victory Shield, the international schoolboys’ football competition, later this year.

How it happened

Both sides started brightly and Northern Ireland midfielder Oilibhear McCart clipped the woodwork with a sliced shot before the Australians opened the scoring on eight minutes, Will Dobson slamming the ball home.

The academy boys levelled soon after. McCart pounced on a hurried clearance by the Australian defence and stroked the ball into the net from eight yards.

Braiden Graham (main picture) was upended inside the area in the 14th minute and referee Adam Lawther immediately pointed to the spot. Graham blasted the penalty into the bottom corner to put Northern Ireland 2-1 ahead.

Ceadach O’Neill shot into the side netting as the home side continued to push forward, while Australia keeper Yiorgos Coutsombes did well to keep out a rasping low drive from Graham at the near post.

Just before the half-hour mark Australia equalised. Northern Ireland failed to deal with a delivery from a free-kick and Forbes Porter prodded home the loose ball.

Both Brandon Downey and the lively Graham had decent efforts as the interval approached.

Half-time: JD Academy/NI 2-2 Australia U17/U16

When the action resumed a Graham blaster was saved by Coutsombes, while Northern Ireland keeper Milo Beimers dived full length to push a deflected drive from Dobson around the post.

Australia took the lead soon after when the Northern Ireland defence failed to clear their lines and Lachlan Henderson fired the ball home at the back post.

Substitute George Feeney stung the palms of the Australian keeper before Matthew Burns tucked the ball in from close range to make it 3-3.

A sweeping move from Australia ended with Caleb Butler clipping the outside of the post with a powerful low effort, however Australia edged ahead once again when substitute Steve Nealon slotted the ball in at the back post.

Northern Ireland played some slick attacking football throughout and they deservedly equalised in added time when a free-kick from substitute Harry Allen was turned into his own net by Australian sub Riley Zsuzsa.

Earlier in the day at the same venue Northern Ireland U18 Schoolboys defeated Australia U18/U19 by four goals to nil. Sam McClintock scored a brace, while Michael Harkin and James Douglas also netted.

Full-time: JD Academy/NI 4-4 Australia U17/U16


JD Academy/NI: Milo Beimers, Alex Watson, Darragh McCann, Noah McDonnell, Jayden Charnley, Troy Savage, Brandon Downey, Matthew Burns, Braiden Graham, Oilibhear McCart, Ceadach O’Neill.

Substitutes: (used) Harry Allen, Coran Madden, George Feeney, Leon Barr, Jack Faloona; (unused) Cole Smyth (GK), Caleb Sweeney, Emmett Morrison, Luke Hawe, Paul Stanfield, Jake Hirthe, Ethan Calderwood.

Australia: Yiorgos Coutsombes, Caelan Marshall-Witte, Petera Love, Lachlan McDonald, Oliver Sacks, Caleb Butler, Will Dobson, Zac Fowler, Forbes Porter, Lachlan Henderson, Alexandro Nunes.

Substitutes: Mason Jones-Hartnig (GK), Jack Ryu, Munib Smajic, Nicholas Badolato, Riley Zsuzsa, Dallo Sandy, Steve Nealon.