Youth Academy players continue to feature at higher age levels

Ballymena United under-13s, who beat Glenavon in the National League Cup in Lurgan on Friday night.
Ballymena United under-13s, who beat Glenavon in the National League Cup in Lurgan on Friday night.

Player development is key at any youth academy and at Ballymena last weekend this was again evident at a number of age groups.

In the Lisburn League,United’s under 11 side have featured a number of under age boys this season, challenging these young players to step up to that next level.

Action from Ballymena United v Carniny Youth in the Under 12 League at Ballymena Showgrounds. INBT 09-176CS

Action from Ballymena United v Carniny Youth in the Under 12 League at Ballymena Showgrounds. INBT 09-176CS

United’s under 13 side were in action on Friday evening in Lurgan and had two talented under 12 players in the starting XI.

The under 14’s were in action at the same venue the next day and had no less than six under 13 players involved.

Both sides recorded wins and played some excellent football in the process.

Not to be outdone United’s senior under 16 side faced Cliftonville at Solitude on Friday evening and again have promoted a number of under 15 players to the group who have impressed with both their attitude and ability.

UNDER-11

Ballymena United Youth Academy 3, Warrenpoint 2: Another excellent display from the group against a side who had defeated them on two previous occasions.

The progression here is very evident, another excellent set piece goal from William Francey was the highlight for the lads in a confident display.

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Ballymena United Youth Academy 2, Carniny Youth 2: The two local sides met in a keenly contested derby in the Lisburn Invitational Youth League on Saturday.

Davy Hanna’s vastly improving Carniny side started the brightest and capitalised on defensive errors to go into a 2-0 lead.

The lead was halved before half time when Ben Dallas crossed for Joshua Balmer to fish high into the roof of the net.

Balmer hit the post before the break but Carniny went in 2-1 up.

In the second half Ballymena gained the initiative and exerted sustained pressure on their opponents.

Mark Lowry began to dominate and both Lewis Tennant and Balmer tested the excellent Nathaniel Hanna in the Carniny goal.

The sky blues pressure paid off when a crsos was headed into the net by a Carniny defender.

Despite efforts from Lowry, Dallas and Balmer - the scoreline ended 2 - 2.

Best wishes to Ballymena United player Billy Ewart who suffered a broken wrist during the game.

Ballymena United Youth Academy Under 12’s are sponsored by Tullyglass Hotel.

MOM - Adam Watterson.

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Glenavon 0, Ballymena United Youth Academy 7: United were at full strength for this league cup last 16 game, with returning international players Ross McCausland and Sean McAllister.

They started well and McCausland’s deft footwork led to a break from the Antrim lad who hammered home from the angle.

Taylor Adger added a second with a great turn and finish and Kyle Neill ghosted in at the back post for two brilliant efforts.

Adger added a second and Bradley McCartney enjoying his night back in the 13’s stepped up with a goal.

United changed personnel at half time and all the boys were excellent in their application and attitude,a late goal followed from the livewire Seanie Macintosh.

U12 player Harry Foster had a superb game for the Skies along with Ross McCausland who were the best performers in sky blue.

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Glenavon 4, Ballymena United Youth Academy 5: An extra time time thriller in Lurgan on Saturday where the sky blues raced into a two goal lead.

Back came the Lurgan blues and it was 3-1 at half time.

A determined Glenavon levelled things in the second period before the skies edged home in extra time.

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Cliftonville 2, Ballymena United 1: New signing from Carniny Liam McKernan started on fire in this game, his power and pace caused the Reds a lot of problems.

He sent the skies ahead before United let the Belfast boys back into game with two efforts.

United hit the woodwork and had a effort cleared off the line, a draw would have been a fair result but it wasn’t to be.