Joey’s take on Madrid giants

by Gazette Reporter

ST JOSEPH’S Boys Under-14s travelled over to the prestigious Madrid Football Cup last weekend and competed against some of the biggest clubs in world football.
The Sallynoggin outfit were placed in Group B for the annual tournament, which is the biggest in Europe for Under-14s. Joining them in the group were the native Atletico Madrid, Werder Bremen of Germany, Dutch side FC Midtylland and JED United from Japan.
Speaking to GazetteSport after the tournament, Joey’s Under-14s coach Bernard Byrne revealed just how good the level of football was at the tournament.
“The standard was incredible,” he said. “We were playing against some of the biggest clubs in Europe and it was brilliant to be able to show our lads just how strong the level can be at their age.”
The south Dublin side were unlucky to finish the group without a win, but they did manage a draw against their Dutch opponents Midtylland and all of their defeats were by a single goal.
One of those was a 1-0 loss to Atletico Madrid in which they pushed the Spaniards right to the death and only conceded with three minutes to go.
“Our performances against really top sides were very encouraging,” said Byrne.
“You’ve got to remember nearly all of the teams in the competition were professional academies.
“I’m almost certain we were the only side that you would call a schoolboy team.
“Even though everyone at Joey’s does everything as professionally as possible, the likes of Atletico and Bremen in our group, and Real Madrid, PSG and Juventus, who were also there, those sides are funded and backed on a different level altogether.”
Byrne and his team brought 17 young players over to Madrid, in what was Joey’s second year at the tournament in a row.
A couple of the Under-13 travelled over to bolster the squad and those players should experience the competition again next year as Byrne believes the club’s foot is firmly in the Madrid door now.
“When we went over last year, I think we did the organisers a bit of a favour as a team dropped out late on and we were asked and obliged them, and then we were invited straight away this time round,” said the coach.
“It’s something for the players on the younger sides at Joey’s to look forward too because it really is a brilliant festival of football.
“Also, it will provide good tournament experience for our Under-14 players ahead of our own Hibernia Trophy every year, so it’s a fantastic opportunity for the club.”

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