FOOTBALL: Larne Youth U15s look to the future

Larne Youth U15s captain Liam Hassin. INLT 20-940-CON

Larne Youth U15s captain Liam Hassin. INLT 20-940-CON

Larne Youth’s promising Under-15 players are looking to the future after winning promotion to the Northern Ireland Boys’ Football Association’s National League A.

Sammy Smith’s young guns narrowly missed out on the league title to Ballinamallard United.

Former Linfield striker Smith, assisted by coaches Stephen Withers and Ivan Wilson, achieved the promotion target they set at the start of the campaign and they are now readying themselves for the next level.

“The boys have been trying for a long time to get promotion which was only confirmed in the last two games, finishing runners-up in a very competitive league.

“They fully deserve their success and they can now look forward to facing the top players in League A,” said Smith.

The squad won 17 of its 22 outings in the National League U15 B division. They lost twice to champions Ballinamallard and suffered defeats to Bertie Peacock Youth and Glenavon.

“This is the future for Larne Football Club - if all the structures are right.

“We have seven or eight players coming from outside the town which wouldn’t have happened in the past, and we already have had enquiries from players looking to join us next season.”

“We will need to bolster the squad as we will be facing many players who will be heading for full-time careers in the game.

“The boys have gelled very well from the start and they socalise together which has helped the team bonding. A lot of credit must go to the parents who bring the boys down twice a week and travel all over the country on a Saturday to support them.

“We would also like to thank Subway Ireland for its support in providing two kits and helping with travel during the season.”

Team captain Liam Hassin, who has been with Larne Youth since Under-11, says he’s relishing the challenge ahead.

“The new players settled in very well and we have been playing with confidence. We now go head-to-head with the best in the country and the manager has been a big influence with his encouragement, along with the other coaches,” he said.

“It was hard to take, finishing runners-up having led for so long but to get promoted was fantastic. Our aim now is to consolidate our position in the top division and push on.”