Moving The Goal Posts
Making a first team debut is memorable for any football player, but for Conner Byrne it must have been that little bit extra special when he donned the jersey for Northern Ireland Football League Premiership club Glenavon FC for the first time. For the shot-stopper is just 14 years old. And what’s more it was a winning debut after he helped Glenavon see off derby rivals Portadown to reach the Mid-Ulster Cup final. According to Ryan Prentice, head of Glenavon’s academy, the teenager has what it takes to play goal keeper at senior level, “I think it’s fantastic for Conner as a player to play in the first team…He’s tall, brave and dedicated to training and works very hard with the coaches. The physical side has to be managed, but the flip-side is that the game is not as physical as it maybe was 20 or 30 years ago, when goalkeepers got clattered. He’s also marshalled by experienced players who will look after him.” It turns out the club’s manager Gary Hamilton had been keeping an eye on the young shot-stopper’s progress for some time, “Gary Hamilton has been aware of him for about a season and a half, he regularly watches our games and has been aware of his progress. Conner has been doing very well, he has played with the under-20 team before and has been training with the senior squad for a number of months. He has always played at a level ahead of his age…If he continues to work hard, it would be nice if he could make a living out of football”, added Prentice. Gosh they start young these days.