Friendly fixtures present platform for youth players

Vinny Arkins. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Vinny Arkins. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Portadown kicked off a planned programme of friendly dates this week with a test at Newry City AFC.

The 3-2 victory arrived thanks to efforts by Eoin Kirwan, Brendan Shannon and an own goal.

However, interim Ports boss Vinny Arkins was looking beyond the scoreline at an opportunity for youth players to progress.

“It was certainly useful overall as an exercise,” said Arkins. “The main objective was to get a look at the younger players, integrate them into the senior squad and give them that test.

“I would not want to single out any individuals but I think it really helped the young players get a taste of senior level.

“It was helpful from the viewpoint of showing the younger lads what is required to move up to the first-team level.

“They probably came away aware of the need to improve fitness levels.

“It also probably hit home the standard that is needed when you move up.

“But that is all part of the reason why we wanted to throw in the younger players across these friendly games.

“You naturally get better by playing and being around better players.

“We also have a game planned for next Tuesday away to Annagh United but that will depend on how we get over Saturday.

“Garry Breen, Niall Henderson, Matthew Parker and Keith O’Hara all missed the Newry City match.

“Once we know how everyone is feeling after the Ards match this weekend we can take a look at the possible friendly squad.”

YOUTH

Portadown Youth officials have confirmed entry by the club into next year’s Craigavon Cup.

The young Ports won the inaugural Jimmy Jones Memorial Cup as the leading Academy on show.

Phil Cowen, the Rangers Academy’s Ireland head scout, recently made a presentation to the Portadown Youth coaching team.

Issues discussed in Brownstown Community Centre included philosophy, style of play, structure, a day in the life of an Academy player and the recruitment process.

Donations were made to Helping Hands and Macmillan Cancer.

Portadown Youth under 15s’ Chris Hutchinson recently spent four days on trial at Aberdeen.

Portadown Youth under 12s’ Johnny McCullough and Zach Cowan made a trip to County Mayo as part of the Club NI panel.

The Emerging Talent tournament finished with Club NI missing out on the final due to goal difference.

INTERNATIONAL

Shamrock Park provided the venue for Northern Ireland under 19s’ Women’s International Cup date against England. Northern Ireland, managed by Portadown-born Alfie Wylie, lost out to the eventual winners of the four-team event.