Celtic’s u-17 squad return from Moscow today without a trophy but rich in experience.
Yesterday’s 2-0 win over Spurs, thanks to goals from Paul McMullan and Luke Donnelly, lifted Celtic onto the ten points mark alongside Barcelona but despite having a better goal difference than the Catalans Barca lifted the trophy courtesy of a 1-0 win over Celtic.
After drawing with the hosts, Spartak Moscow, and losing to Barcelona, Celtic beat Dinamo Kiev, Benfica and Spurs to the delight of Tommy McIntyre and his coaching team.
Developing players towards the first team squad is the target at u-17 level but it’s never too young to develop the winning habit as well.
“We’re really delighted with the way that the week has gone,” McIntyre confirmed. “We’ve got the same number of points as Barcelona, we have a better goal difference but the rules of the tournament are that if teams are tied it goes on the head-to-head.
“That’s maybe a little disappointing but it’s been a great tournament, our players have been exceptional. They have been in a different environment and it’s part of their learning curve to play against different styles of football. They are learning all the time in games like this. The level of competition in this tournament is second to none.”
McIntyre added: “Hindsight is a wonderful thing, if Barcelona hadn’t scored the winner in the last few minutes against Dinamo Kiev we might have won the competition.
“We’ve a lot to be pleased about, Paul McMullan is the top goalscorer with five goals in five games at a top international youth tournament. We kept clean sheets and scored four times in our last two matches against Benfica and Spurs which shows how we developed through the tournament.
“Coming to Moscow is a big challenge for the players but a great experience for everyone.
“Looking forward half of this squad can play again at u-17 next season and the older players set a great example to the u-16’s of how to work within a full-time set up.
“Moving from u-17 to u-20 is a big jump but every player has the opportunity to step up and really get tested. We want to put them into the next level, there is a natural progression and they will be promoted if they are doing well.”
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CELTIC 2-0 Benfica: Hart; Eadie, Kelleher, McIlduff (McLaren 37), Waters; McIntosh )Thomson 37), McManus, Henderson, Nesbit (McDonagh 53); McMullan, McCarthy
GOALS Kelleher & McMullan
CELTIC 2-0 Spurs: Hart (McCabe 51); Eadie, Barrowman, Kelleher, Waters; McLaren (McIntosh 51), McManus, Henderson, McDonagh; McMullan, Donnelly (McIlduff 53)