This week’s 3-1 win over Ballyclare Comrades marked another clear demonstration of the vital importance of the Glentoran Academy, in producing first team players of both the present and future. In addition to Paul O’Neill, Mal Smith and James McCarthy all establishing themselves as first teamers this season, the Ballyclare game saw a first team debut for Lewis McGarvey, a return for Salou Jallow and a debut for Charlie Lindsay as the youngest ever Glentoran first-team player. Last but not least, we saw first senior goals from Mal and Salou.
In total four young players were given first team squad numbers this week (adding to Ben Cushnie, currently on loan to Ards). U2Os Manager David Lowry gave glentoran.com some detail on the most recent Academy graduates.:
Lewis McGarvey signed for Glentoran as an 11-year-old back in 2011/12 season and has been a rock at the back of many a great Glentoran Academy side since. He has racked up four NIBFA Cup wins and played for his Country at every level up to and including NI under 18s where he was part of a backline that won the Centenary Shield without conceding a goal last season. Lewis is a classy, footballing central defender and is maturing into a great leader among the young group we have at U20.
Salou Jallow has returned to the club after a spell at University in Manchester. Salou, another local East Belfast boy, originally signed for Glentoran from Crusaders in January 2017 and made a significant impact in the first team towards the end of the season before leaving for Manchester. He started our 50th anniversary game in Detroit and is one of only four players who started the game still at the club, along with Elliott Morris, Paul O’Neill and Steven Gordon. While in Manchester Salou signed for FC United of Manchester and made a breakthrough into their first team. He has completed his studies and has decided to return home to Belfast and the club was delighted to secure his return to re-join his local team.
Charlie Lindsay is an East Belfast lad and a Glenman through and through, hailing from the Cregagh Estate. He has spent the last 8 years at Glentoran since signing as a 7-year-old. Charlie has an array of man-of-the-match awards in big finals for Glentoran and has been the heartbeat of a team that has won four all Ireland titles and three NIBFA Cups in a row as well as back to back league titles. Charlie is an under 17 international and has a provisional agreement in place to move to Rangers at the end of the current season.
Caolan McBride is 16 and attracted heavy interest from Aston Villa who look likely to make a move to sign him next summer. He is a creative, classy central midfield player who can open up defences with his passing and running ability. Caolan is also an under 17 international and was on the bench for the Ballyclare game.
Head Coach Mick McDermott said of these young Glens: “It is vital in any football club to constantly be looking for new and exciting talent. We search high and low and it is even more pleasing when we can develop them within our own system. I have been paying attention to several of the Reserve and youth squads for several months now; Lewis did pre-season with the 1st team, as did Ben and periodically Caolan – all of them performed really well amongst our senior players. Charlie has had a busy summer with international travel, games and tournaments but recently I invited him to train with our senior team – again, like the others he trained well. Training is one thing but eventually we need to put their ‘feet in the fire’ of 1st team games – I must say that all have come through those tests with flying colours. We will be monitoring Ben closely as he plays at Ards and we have been fortunate to have Salou re-join us last week. I believe, with commitment, discipline and continued development, they all have bright futures with our Club and beyond. I am delighted to have them all at Glentoran FC.
………To the Future “
Salou celebrates his first goal for the first team with three other lads who came through the Glentoran ranks - James McCarthy, Stevie Gordon and Mal Smith.