Chesterfield’s academy had another reason to celebrate last weekend, as the U10 and U11 teams enjoyed a successful Mayo Cup tournament in Ireland.
The U11s won their tournament, while the U10s finished runners up, proving that the trip to the ‘Emerald Isle’ was a very worthwhile exercise.
“It was another really good trip away, that’s two to Ireland that we’ve done this season, the kids have been brilliant,” said Darren Molloy, lead coach of the U9-11 development phase.
“They’ve really enjoyed it and they’ve brought back the trophies which is always nice. It’s great for their confidence!”
The academy are no stranger to the competition having sent older age groups there in previous years. Last weekend’s competition was formatted differently to what had gone before, as Molloy explained.
He said: “This year was slightly different in that there were two tournaments within the same tournament.
“Every team that entered put two teams in, so the U10s went into one, with the different age group format, they were playing teams 12-18 months above them, so they did incredibly well to get to the final of that.
“With the U11s getting to their final, it was a case of everyone getting the maximum amount of minutes.
“It was nine a side on Friday, and then seven a side on Saturday, you played everyone in both formats over the weekend.”
And the opposition the Spireites came up against were different propositions to what they face back home.
“We played against teams of the academy equivalent in Ireland, they don’t have academies there, they have league teams and pick squads from that as a representative side,” said Molloy.
“We played a number of those sides over the course of the weekend, which was excellent. The Irish teams do tend to play a little bit of a more physical style than what our boys are used to, so it’s good to get a different test, and to be fair, our lads adapted to that really well and played some great football.”
And as you would expect, the success was put down to fine individual performances and a real team effort.
Molloy said: “As a team to do what they did and get to the finals they were all excellent, everybody performed.
“Certainly in the U10s Harrison Landon and Callum Bedford on the Saturday and Johnny Davies being the standout of both age groups on the Friday.
“While for the U11s on the Saturday, I’d say Harry Clarke and Luke Mitchell, but as a team and group of players everybody had a good weekend.”
And there was also a lot of success off the field as well.
Molloy explained: “Most of the parents went, obviously we book it and organise it as if there’s no parents. They’re there to support the football end, and the main part of it for us is that yes the football is good, but it’s the entertainment part of it.
“It’s about the social aspect, we’re talking about nine and 10-year-olds having to sort out their own kit bags, and having to meet at certain times for pre-match meals, ensuring that they sleep right and let them make their own decisions.
“We say to the parents that they’ve no need to worry, as it’s amazing how much they are capable of doing at their own age, and to be honest that was one of the smoothest tournaments we’ve had, despite it being the youngest age group that we’ve took away.
“So the boys were fantastic and they had a lot of compliments from people staying in and around the resort, as well as the staff there who couldn’t believe their age and how well-mannered they were.
“It was a fantastic experience and the boys did the club proud like they always do!”
And it will soon be time for the players and parents to get out their passports once again.
Molloy added: “Some of the younger U11s qualify for a tournament in Belgium that we’re going to at the end of May, with the U9s and U10s. And those U11s who didn’t go to Ireland will be going to Germany with our U12s, in a tournament, four weeks away.
“Both of those tournaments are invite only, and we got them through an agent that I know, who has seen us play and said why we should be there!
“It’s only West Ham United and ourselves who’re going from this country, we’re playing against the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Olympique Marseille!
“It will be incredible to see a Chesterfield team line up against the likes of those teams.”