Our u17 side are just back from northern France where we successfully defended the u17 trophy which we won last year.
Fielding the youngest squad of the eight teams in the competition, having only four 17 year olds in our 16 man squad, we ended up facing the oldest team, Dynamo Moscow from Russia with 15 x 17 year olds, in the final. We even had three of our u15 squad playing.
The squad travelled on Friday to take part in the 27th ESMGO International u17 Youth Tournament, hosted by Gonfreville l’Orcher in their home town, just outside Le Havre in Normandy. Of our 16 players, seven took part in last year’s tournament, and three of them are still of age to take part for a third successive year next year.
The competition comprised two groups – ESM Gonfreville, USL Dunkerque, Charlton Athletic and Accies; and in the other group – Le Havre, Monaco, Djunaska Streda (Slovak top division), and Dynamo Moscow.
On Saturday afternoon we defeated Charlton 6-0 with goals from Liam Scullion, Lewis Smith 2, Sean Slaven, Steffen Connelly and Andy Winter. On Sunday morning we had an early start with a 9am game against the hosts ESMGO and an early Sean Slaven goal saw us win 1-0. Out final group game was on Sunday afternoon when we defeated Dunkerque 4-2 with a double from Sean Slaven, one penalty, Liam Scullion and Deaglan Moynes. That saw us win the group and hosts ESMGO were runners up.
In the first semi final on Monday morning we defeated Le Havre 2-0 with goals from Charlie Reilly and Lewis Smith. The other semi saw Dynamo Moscow defeat the hosts 4-0.
In the final, before a packed crowd at Stade Maurice Baquet, we defeated Dynamo 2-1, their goal coming with only three minutes to go, giving us a tense finish, after Lewis Smith and young Jamie Hamilton had fired us ahead earlier in the second half.
It was a superb performance by our young squad – keepers Ross Connelly and KieranMcDougall, plus Ciaran McAndrew, Leon McCann, Taylor Wilson, Adam Douglas, Daryl Meikle, Lewis Smith (c), Steffen Connelly, Sean Slaven, Charlie Reilly, Liam Scullion, Marley Redfern, Andy Winter, Jamie Hamilton and Deaglan Moynes.
The following seven won for the second successive year – Ross Connelly, Leon McCann, Taylor Wilson, Adam Douglas, Steffen Connelly, Sean Slaven and Deaglan Moynes. Of those seven, Taylor, Sean and Deaglan are eligible for a third successive year in 2018.
As well as winning the trophy, we also won the trophy for best attackers and trophy for best defenders.
Head of Youth George Cairns was delighted and commented, “This is a huge achievement for us, to be invited back to defend it and to win all five games, playing some great football in the process, and to beat a very strong Dynamo Moscow side in the final, was great. I’m delighted for all the players and staff here as it provides them with great memories for the remainder of their careers. We played well throughout, scored some good goals, and all 16 players contributed to this success. We brought along some of our younger academy players to give them the experience and they will be part of next year’s squad that will return.”
George went on, “It is a very well run tournament, well organised with many volunteers assisting, and backed by many sponsors. The games are good and competitive, and the players soon realised they had to work hard to succeed, and they got the win they fully deserved. I want to thank Olivier Beuzelin and all involved at ESMGO for their efforts and we look forward to coming back.”
At the end, our support staff voted Lewis Smith as the Accies player of the tournament.