Tuesday, 28 January 2014
FOUR young stars from the aptly named Carnbane League club Windmill Stars are blazing their way to glory, as they were plucked from the hundreds of children playing in the Lisburn League by Liverpool, Manchester united and Northern Ireland scouts and selected for their Schools of Excellence.
Dylan Quinn and Adam Heaney who play for Windmill U11s have joined Liverpool's School of Excellence in Belfast. Eleven-year-old John McGovern who is a member of Star's U12 team is honing his abundant skills at Manchester United's School of Excellence and Daniel McKeown is set to light up the Northern Ireland U14 Elite squad.
The boys are incredibly excited to join such prestigious soccer schools. They all said they love it but they all also said it's a lot harder and faster and you have to make up your mind and pass much quicker than what they're used to.
Their coaches at Windmill Damien Hillen, John-Joe Maguire and Damien Grant, have no doubts however that these boys have what it takes to impress. U 12 manager Maguire praised his prodigy John McGovern.
“He stood out every year from underage. His work-rate is phenomenal. John is a work-horse and that's definitely one of his strengths," said Maguire.
U 11 manager Hillen believes both of his boys have the talent to go places. He said of his striker Dylan Quinn.
“He's scored 45 goals in the Lisburn League this season. It's the top league in Northern Ireland for this level and every referee and opposition manager has come up to me and said he's by far the best they've seen at that age."
“It's fantastic for the boys and the club. It's putting the Windmill Stars name out there. We've never had a child at an Academy and we could have six or seven more. Our ambition as a club is to have one or two kids picked up by the Academies, after that it's to get them across the water and then it's full Internationals. It can happen, you have to set your sights high," said Hillen.
The ambitious club is indeed a fantastic asset to the community with a membership of around 260 children but Hillen says the foundations are set in sand and there is a real worry for Windmill's future as despite trying for the past seven years they still do not have their own pitch.
“Unless we have a base somewhere, these kids will get to 18 or 19 and leave us because we have nothing to offer them.
“We pay about £15,000 a year for the hiring of training facilities. Warrenpoint Town and a few other clubs received funding because they have a pitch.
We are a bigger club but we can't get help because we don't have a pitch and we can't find land to buy. The Carnbane League need their pitches and they say it's an equal opportunities issue in terms of displacement and there are more teams than Windmill about and I understand that, but it's not only about the Senior team, it's about the underage too," he said.
Hillen also said it's a disgrace that the facilities are so poor in the City of Newry that the league is looking at an option to play on 4G pitches in Rathfriland and Banbridge.
There are talented young soccer players in Newry, and they deserve facilities.
Watching these four young boys tearing around the St Colman's pitch and all of the other Windmill youngsters enjoying training , it's easy to see how these children are a perfect example of what can happen when young talent is nurtured.
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