DFP Header

Paul Sheerin On RedTV

March 8, 2018 5:36 pm Author: AFC Media Team

There was no game for the U20s this week so Paul Sheerin instead took time out to speak to RedTV about the campaign so far and look ahead to an exciting end to the season. Aberdeen U20s are sitting third in the SPFL Development League, and are in position for a third top three finish in four years. They also have a semi-final tie in the SFA Youth Cup to look forward to.

“The early part of the season we were very patchy but once we found our consistency we have gone on and done well. At one stage we went ten games unbeaten and for a young squad that was a real positive. Unfortunately, the winter break came at a bad time for us and we lost our first two games back after the break against Motherwell and Kilmarnock. Since then we are on a wee winning run again and had good wins against Celtic and Ross County in the Cup. Hopefully we can get that going.

“As we always say, winning games is not the be all and end all at this level, but it is pleasing you when manage to breed that winning habit within them.

“So the season up to now has been ok. We are at the right end of the table and in the semi-final of the SFA Youth Cup. The boys just need to keep working hard.”

Aberdeen will continue their quest for a fourth win in the Scottish Youth Cup when they play either Motherwell or Kilmarnock in the semi-final. Celtic will play Hibs in the other last four tie. The competition has historically acted as a launchpad for some of Scottish football’s greatest talents since the first final was contested back in 1984. Aberdeen have won the trophy on three previous occasions, in 1985, 1986 and 2001.

The Dons’ last success came in May ‘01 when Aberdeen beat Celtic at Hampden before a crowd of 2,228. Inside 90 seconds, Fergus Tiernan opened the scoring after the young Celtic keeper fumbled a high ball.

Celtic keeper Allan Morrison drops a cross to allow Fergus Tiernan (10) to score Aberdeen’s first goal

That early goal eased the Dons into the game and captain Tiernan and Ross O’Donoghue were instrumental in the Reds’ midfield. Scott Michie scored a second after 20 minutes leaving Celtic with it all to do and the Glasgow side never recovered. Kevin McNaughton was also in the team that night.

“I actually played in the same team as Fergus Tiernan which worries me a bit! Makes me feel old!

“The last final Aberdeen were in was 2003. I remember watching the game. I was playing for the first team at the time. We travelled down to Perth on the Friday night to take in the match before going on to stay at our hotel to prepare for our game the next day. In all honesty 2003 is far too long for a club of our size, for a club that prides itself in bringing players through. It has certainly been a bug bear of mine that we have not been closer to cup finals with the squads that we have had.

“So it is nice to get to the latter stages of the competition and hopefully now we can get that extra game and make the final and see where it takes us.

“The players in the away dressing room, where the U20s get changed, must recognise that this is their competition whereas the Development League, we can use five over age players so it is not exclusive to them. The exclusivity of the youth cup for our dressing room is a big thing. It is something I have put to the boys this season. I said we needed to be getting to the latter stages and we have done that. Hopefully we can go one stage further and get to the final.”

A highlight of the season has been the performance of many younger members of the squad, and the way they have mixed with some of the more senior U20 players. This is not something that has just happened by accident.

“Over the last couple of years, we have managed to get into the habit of bringing in the U17 players early. Ethan Ross was one that was brought up to the 20s early. People might remember the photo of Ethan and Scott McKenna after a game a few years back.

Scott McKenna and Ethan Ross

“His brother Seb the season before was brought up early. We have been managed to do it in the later stages of the campaigns, when we have brought in these boys, the guys who are signing full time in the summer, and we have freshened the team up by releasing the ones who will not be making it. It gives the younger ones an opportunity and likewise Scott Anderson and Barry Robson will do the same with their U17 squad. They will bring younger boys into the U17s.

“It is a progression that is coming habitual and I think that is a good thing. It gets them into the way of our thinking at this level. It gets them used to playing at a higher standard. It is good for their development to see what they are coming into. This year we have really reaped the benefit of doing that. The three that came in full time – Archie Mair, Dean Campbell and Ethan Ross – have played more 20s football than any other player who has just come in as a full time professional, certainly since I came into the club.

“It is really promising that they have managed to get so many minutes.

“During this campaign Tyler Alexander, Max Berry, Jack Chesser have all had an involvement, as has Sean Linden. It is good to get them in and around the squad as quick as possible.

“The three I have spoken about already – Dean, Archie and Ethan – who came up early, are playing regularly although unfortunately Dean has picked up an injury. All three have also been involved with Scotland. It is great for them to play on the international stage and to go and play against the likes of Spain. And not just play against them, beat them. it is really pleasing to see them developing in that way and ultimately it will only benefit us when they come back from these competitions.

“Ethan especially, who had not played as much as Dean and Archie, he came back really confident from the last Scotland trip and you can see that in his game now. His performances have taken off over the past month.

“Dean is slowly getting back. He will probably miss out on the next Scotland trip which is a real shame but we are hopeful he will be back for the SFA Youth Cup semi-final once Kilmarnock and Motherwell play their quarter final tie.”

Official Club Sponsor

Exclusive Talent Partner