Sunday, May 30, 2010

Conor Clifford still hopefull of making UEFA u19 finals

Ireland U19 captain, Conor Clifford has backed his team to defy all of the odds and reach this summer's UEFA Championship finals in France as they complete their UEFA Championship, elite qualifying phase with a game against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday in Kiev. Ireland must defeat Bosnia & Herzegovina by four goals or more and hope that reigning European Champions, Ukraine defeat England 1-0 in the other game in group 3 to ensure qualification for the ‘Boys in Green.'

Sean McCaffrey's side were defeated 1-0 by England in the group's opening game while they bounced back to stun reigning European Champions, Ukraine with a 1-0 victory in Kiev last Friday. Bosnia & Herzegovina have struggled in group 3 to date with a 4-1 defeat to Ukraine which was followed up with a 4-0 defeat to England.

Chelsea star, Clifford said, "Qualification to this summer's finals is very much alive. Obviously we are relying on Ukraine doing us a favour in the final game but none of us are thinking about that - we are just concentrating on getting the result we need against Bosnia & Herzegovina. I think that getting an early goal will be vital in settling the team into the game. That would put the opposition under pressure and hopefully force a few errors. The Bosnian team haven't had the easiest time of it over here, they haven't come here to make up the numbers, they will be playing for pride and will want to go back home with points on the board," he said.

Clifford added, "In my opinion, Ukraine have an excellent chance in their game against England. Let's not forget that they are the current champions and they will be hoping to advance to the finals in front of their own supporters. They are a strong, physical side and they are very capable of taking the ball down and playing it around on the ground. There are a lot of twists and turns left in this group yet, be sure of that. Our result against England was a major set-back for all of the players and the staff in the team. We firmly believed that we should have least got a positive result in that game but that disappointment really spurred us on for the second game against Ukraine. The lads were fantastic, we all worked for each other on the field and to get a win against all the odds, especially with ten men was indescribable."

Chelsea's Youth captain, Clifford has been in instrumental form for club and country this season which he capped with the winning goal for Chelsea in the FA Youth Cup final against Aston Villa, "At the beginning of the season, I wrote down all of my goals that I wanted to achieve at Chelsea this year and thankfully they were all achieved. I started every game for the reserve team and to finish the season lifting the FA Youth Cup in front of all my family and friends at Stamford Bridge was an unbelievable achievement. That being said, that feat might be overshadowed if we were to qualify for this summer's UEFA Championship. A couple of the players here have already experienced the UEFA Championship finals at U17 level and it is something we want to repeat. Every player wants to experience the high intensity and the huge crowds associated with the finals and we will ensure that we are in a position to rely on Ukraine's result against England in the final game, which will hopefully see us through to the finals.

Clifford added, "Most of the players in this squad have been playing together for a number of years at international level with some notable success, especially at U17 level. Unfortunately, we have had to deal with a large number or withdrawals due to injury and players with other commitments. I believe that if we had a full squad we would have qualified but we can still do it. This is a great group of players who have been together for a number of seasons under Sean McCaffrey and his staff which has been very enjoyable. It would be a fitting tribute for everybody involved to finish the season with an unprecedented place at this European finals," he said.

Republic of Ireland Under-19 Squad:
Ger Hanley - Mervue United
Ian McLoughlin - Ipswich Town
Richie Towell - Celtic
Johnny Dunleavy - Wolverhampton Wanderers
Andy Boyle - UCD
Sean McGinty - Manchester United
Shaun Timmins - Birmingham City
Shane McEleney - Derry City
Conor Clifford - Chelsea
Conor Henderson - Arsenal
Conor Hourihane - Sunderland
Daniel Kearns - West Ham United
Jimmy Keohane - Wexford Youths
Robbie Brady - Manchester United *
Ronan Murray - Ipswich Town
Harry Crawford - Southend United.
Stephen McDonnell - Dundalk
Karl Sheppard - Galway United


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ireland dispatch second World Cup finalist in a week

Ireland 3-0 Algeria

Rookie Paul Green and record scorer Robbie Keane teamed up to fire Ireland to a comfortable victory over World Cup finalists Algeria.

For the second time in four days, Giovanni Trapattoni's side dispatched a side who will take part in the tournament, and this time they did so with some ease.

They went ahead with 32 minutes gone when Green, starting for his country for the first time, dived to head home Liam Lawrence's cross, and Keane extended the lead seven minutes after the restart.

The skipper's 85th-minute penalty completed the job as England's second World Cup opponents, admittedly without several of their bigger names, succumbed all too easily.

At times Algeria were adept on the ball with holding midfielder Mehdi Lacen and Portsmouth's Nadir Belhadj particularly influential, but they struggled to supply anything of note to their strikers and were woeful at the back.

That may have been just as well for Ireland, with the imposing figure of Rafik Djebbour looking more than capable of ruffling a few feathers.

However, he was dealt with comfortably by Sean St Ledger and, until he limped off nine minutes before the break, John O'Shea.

Indeed, just as they had done against Paraguay on Tuesday evening, it was the Republic who created the better chances despite seeing less of the ball.

They might have been ahead as early as the third minute when Kevin Doyle got across his marker to meet Damien Duff's free-kick with a steered volley, although he was only able to guide the ball into the waiting arms of goalkeeper Faouzi Caouchi.

Duff fired well wide from the edge of the box with 22 minutes gone, but at the other end Keiren Westwood did not have a single save to make.

Green did not look out of place and made one vital interception inside his own box to cut out a Yazid Mansouri cross, but his evening was to get even better.

He bravely dived in to meet Lawrence's 32nd-minute free-kick in front of Caouchi and opened the scoring, although he took a boot in the head from the goalkeeper in the process.

However, he was able to continue after treatment and Trapattoni's men returned for the final 45 minutes of an international season determined to end it with a flourish.

They might have increased their lead within four minutes of the restart had debutant Djamel Mesbah not got in a fine block to deny Lawrence.

However, Algeria contributed to their own downfall three minutes later when, after Wolves defender Aldane Guedioura had allowed Duff to cross from the left, Caouchi punched the ball ineffectually towards Keane, who hooked it back over him and into the empty net.

Westwood was called upon for the first time to keep out Karim Ziani's long-range effort with 55 minutes gone, but Ireland were dominating in possession and chances.

Three times inside seven minutes Keane could have added to his tally, first forcing a good diving save from Caouchi before being denied by the post after running onto Kevin Doyle's flick.

He then only just failed to beat substitute goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi with a cheeky 70th-minute lob.

Guedioura came close to pulling one back for the visitors when he rattled the crossbar with a late header, but Mesbah was adjudged to have tripped Keane when he played the ball first and the Tottenham striker stroked home the 43rd goal of his international career from the spot.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cunningham to get first senior cap

Galway Teenager Greg Cunningham will win his first senior cap for Ireland in tonight's friendly clash with Algeria at the RDS in Dublin.

The 19-year-old Manchester City full-back, who made just three appearances as a substitute for his club last season, will line up on the left as John O'Shea moves into the middle to partner Sean St Ledger with Paul McShane having been released from the squad.

There will also be a first start for 27-year-old Derby midfielder Paul Green, who made his debut as a substitute against Paraguay on Tuesday evening.

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni has an injury doubt over Liam Lawrence, who is struggling to shake off a groin problem, and Birmingham's Keith Fahey is standing by.

Ireland starting eleven to face Algeria K Westwood; S Kelly, J O'Shea, S St Ledger, G Cunninham; L Lawrence, P Green, G Whelan, D Duff; R Keane, K Doyle.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Trapattoni urges belief in Irish team

Giovanni Trapattoni urged his Ireland players to believe in their ability after beating World Cup qualifiers Paraguay 2-1.

While Paraguay booked their ticket to South Africa with two games to spare, Ireland were denied a place at next month's finals in a controversial play-off with France.

Yet although the South Americans had already played three warm-up matches and bossed possession, they struggled to break down the Republic defence and the hosts were more incisive in attack.

Wolves striker Kevin Doyle headed a seventh-minute opener before Stoke midfielder Liam Lawrence fired home in the 39th minute.

And although Argentina-born striker Lucas Barrios marked his Paraguay debut with a 58th-minute strike, Ireland held on to claim an impressive success.

"I told the players before the game to remember three of our last four opponents - Italy, France and Brazil," Trapattoni told Sky Sports.

"We have to remember we are a good team because we played against these teams at a good level and I think they believed me.

"The first half I saw our team play with mentality, attitude and attention.

"Second half we must forget because some players have been on holiday. We had only two days together (before the game) so maybe second half we were down and missing some strength.

"The result was important but what was more important was our performance, and I think we deserved to win."

Trapattoni handed senior international debuts to Paul Green, Cillian Sheridan and Keith Fahey off the bench in the second half.

And they may feature more as Ireland aim to follow up the morale-boosting victory by claiming another World Cup scalp on Friday, with England's Group C opponents Algeria visiting the RDS Arena.

"For us, it's important we repeat the performance," added Trapattoni.

"I said before that maybe after just two days together we wouldn't have the same strength and the same condition.

"But I have confidence with the new players today, like Paul Green for the last 30 minutes, he played well.

"I think we must now think about a few new players (against Algeria)."

Kevin Doyle delighted with win

Kevin Doyle was delighted with Ireland’s 2-1 win over Paraguay in the friendly international match played at the RDS in Dublin yesterday

Doyle and Liam Lawrence scored in the first half as Ireland recorded a victory against their World Cup-bound opponents.

“It’s a win, they’re going to the World Cup and we’re not so it’s a good win for us,” Doyle reflected..

“They’re going to be well trained and we beat them pretty convincingly.

“We looked pretty solid and played well.”

Paraguay pulled a goal back through Lucas Barrios in the second half and became more of a threat, with Doyle admitting the home side perhaps began to feel the pace.

“It’s been a good few weeks since some of us had a game and maybe it started to show a little,” the Wolves forward added.

“They’re the opposite and they were probably a bit sharper come the end.

“But it was a chance for us to be together again, it was another good performance and a good win.

“It all will hopefully count when the European Championship qualifiers come round.”

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ireland v Paraguay preview

Ireland Manager Giovanni Trapattoni will field an experienced Ireland side in tonight’s friendly against Paraguay despite a number of withdrawals.

Shay Given, Richard Dunne, Aiden McGeady and Kevin Kilbane are missing but Robbie Keane, Damien Duff, John O'Shea and Kevin Doyle will all start.

Regulars Glenn Whelan, Keith Andrews, Sean St Ledger are also included as is Fulham defender Stephen Kelly.

With Given missing, Coventry keeper Keiren Westwood will start in goal. The twenty-five-year-old will win his fourth cap as he deputises for the injured Given and has been praised by boss Giovanni Trapattoni.

Trapattoni said: “Westwood is a goalkeeper with a great personality. Physically, he is fantastic.

“He has personality and a presence that I like very much, and I don’t think he will be fazed by the game.”

Wolves striker Doyle missed training on Sunday because of a sore throat but has been passed fit to play.

Tuesday's game and Friday's contest at the RDS against Algeria will be part of the squad's preparations for the European Championship qualifiers which start in early September with the away trip to Armenia.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Trapattoni names team for Paraguay friendly

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has confirmed that Keiren Westwood will start tomorrow night's friendly with Paraguay in goal as Shay Given continues his recovery from injury.

Stephen Kelly, Paul McShane, Sean St Ledger and John O'Shea will make up the back four with Liam Lawrence, Keith Andrews, Glenn Whelan and Damien Duff in midfield and Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle in attack.

Liam Lawrence looking for Wolves summer move

Stoke City and Ireland midfielder Liam Lawrence has set his sights on a summer move away from the Potters to join Wolves.

The 28-year-old has dropped down the pecking order at the Britannia Stadium and is keen to move on to try and secure more regular first-team football and secure his future on the international stage.

He told the Sunday Mercury: "He (Mick McCarthy) gave me my chance when he signed me from Mansfield Town for Sunderland.

"He's a great manager and he's done an amazing job this year keeping Wolves up.

"I've spoken to the manager (Tony Pulis) and told him that I think it's best if I move on.

"If I'm not playing regularly the Ireland manager, he's not daft, he's going to know that I'm going to be rusty and he's not going to take a chance on me."

Lawrence has been an integral part of Goivanni Trapattoni’s Ireland squad over the last two years and played an important role in the central midfield position during the last World Cup qualifying campaign.

Lawrence joined Stoke in November 2006 and has gone on to score 24 goals in 125 appearances in all competitions.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Shane Duffy has life saving surgery after freak accident

Young Ireland defender Shane Duffy has undergone life-saving surgery after suffering a freak accident in a training match last night.

The Everton teenager suffered a laceration to his liver after colliding with Irish amateur team goalkeeper Adrian Walsh during the clash at Gannon Park.

After being attended to on the pitch by team surgeon Professor John O’Byrne and team doctor Alan Byrne, he was rushed to nearby Mater Hospital where surgeon Gerry McEntee performed an emergency operation.

O’Byrne said: “Shane collided with a player in a way that you would see thousands of times in football matches. It was a freak injury that in another 100 years of medicine, we may never see again.

“Shane sustained a laceration to his liver and was rushed to the Mater hospital for emergency surgery. Gerry McEntee and the intensive care staff in the Mater must be credited for their expertise and fast response which in no uncertain terms saved Shane’s life.

“Shane was stabilised in intensive care after the surgery which stopped internal bleeding and this morning is conscious and is in the care of the Mater’s high-dependency unit having improved overnight.”

The 18-year-old had been scheduled to remain with Giovanni Trapattoni's senior squad, solely for training purposes, ahead of next week's friendly clashes against Paraguay and Algeria.

His injuries call to mind those suffered by Republic goalkeeper Shay Given in 2006 when, during his time at Newcastle, he collided with then West Ham striker Marlon Harewood and suffered injuries described as being consistent with a car crash.

Trapattoni, who made an early exit from the game between St Patrick’s Athletic and Bohemians at Richmond Park after hearing of Duffy’s accident, offered his thanks to Prof McEntee and his specialised crash team as well as the national side’s medical staff.

“I would like to thank Dr Alan Byrne and Prof. John O’Byrne for their quick reaction to Shane’s serious injury,” he said.

“As time was critical, had they not acted as they did, Shane’s life could have been in more danger than it already was.

“On behalf of the FAI, I would also like to praise Prof. Gerry McEntee for conducting the emergency operation and ensuring that Shane was given the best possible attention.”

“Shane is very lucky and we wish him a speedy recovery.”

Duffy remains in the hospital’s High Dependency ward today. His blood pressure dropped to dangerously low levels during the operation but was controlled and he is expected to make a full recovery.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Seamus Coleman sticks with the Toffees

Everton defender Seamus Coleman says his new four-year contract is proof he is progressing at Goodison Park.

The Donegal born Ireland u21 international is currently on loan at Blackpool and joined Everton from Sligo in 2008.

"I was playing to get a new contract because it shows that you've done alright, so I'm delighted," Coleman said today.

"When I came here I had a long enough contract but you always want to get another one to show that you've done something to earn it."

The Ireland Under-21 international's loan at Blackpool ends on Monday, the day after their Wembley play-off final against Cardiff.

But Coleman said he would think about going out on loan again.

"I'd be open to it and I'm going to do whatever David Moyes tells me to do," said Coleman. "He's the boss and whatever he thinks is right for me I'll do.

"He hasn't got a bad record with young players so far. So whatever he thinks best, I will agree with."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Irish unearth a gem in Shane Duffy

As international debuts go, it's hardly up there with scoring a hat-trick in your first Ireland game, a la David Kelly, or outshining the World Cup holders, as Paul McGrath did.

But one fact emerged from the training game between a fringe Ireland team and an U23 side made up of home-based players: Ireland have made a great discovery in Everton defender Shane Duffy.

With top-class Irish central defenders very hard to find at the top level, Duffy is a real find. He proved that last night as the Derry native was the stand-out player in the Ireland senior side which defeated the U23s 1-0 thanks to a 21st-minute goal from Anthony Stokes.

Duffy was the most inexperienced member of a back four, which included players with experience in the Champions League (Darren O'Dea), international football (Paul McShane) and the English Premier League (Manchester City's Greg Cunningham) but Duffy, with only two first-team appearances to show for his time at Everton, looked the part.

Duffy was the real find of the night and the man from Derry told the Herald that, after months of talk and discussion and media debate, he was relieved to just play a game in the shirt of Ireland, albeit an unofficial training game.

"I just wanted to get out there and play and I think I did OK," said Duffy. "It was a big thing for me to come down here and play for the Republic. It's something I always wanted to do and the lads in the squad and the staff were great with me, they really helped me settle in.

"I think myself and Darren O'Dea had a good partnership at centre half. Even though he's young Darren has a lot of experience. He's played in the SPL and the Champions League for Celtic and he's played for the Irish senior team before so that was great for me, to have someone like that beside me.

"It was a hard game for us as the U23 side were very sharp. They have some very good players in the side and they didn't just turn up for the sake of it. They took the game to us and that's what we needed," added Duffy.

The 18-year-old made his Everton debut last December during their Europa League campaign but since then he's been starved of football, apart from occasional matches for the Toffees reserves, so he was happy to be out on the field.

"I just needed a game, I haven't played much football in the last while," Duffy added. "Last season went well for me. I got my Everton debut, played two games and won a player of the year award so it was a great season and being here with the Republic has finished it off nicely.

"The conditions in Malahide last night weren't easy, but we still had a decent game," added Duffy.

Ireland 1 - Ireland u23's 0

Anthony Stokes scored the only goal in last night's training match, to give Giovanni Trapattoni's senior Ireland training squad victory over the Ireland u23 team.

The Hibernian attacker fired home from 25 yards midway through the first-half after Cillian Sheridan raided down the left flank and cut the ball across the edge of the box into Stokes' path.

The Irish Under-23s were unlucky not to earn a draw as substitute Paddy Madden had the ball in the net 17 minutes from time but he was adjudged to have been offside when Gary McCabe sent him through on goal.

Trapattoni has said that most of the development players will also hang around for the double header of friendly internationals at the RDS next week.

Ireland Seniors: Westwood (Coventry City); McShane (Hull City), Duffy (Everton), O'Dea (Celtic), Cunningham (Manchester City); Stokes (Hibernian), Fahey (Birmingham City), Green (Derby County), Long (Reading); Sheridan (Celtic), Best (Newcastle United) . Subs: J. Murphy (Scunthorpe United) for Westwood (h/t), Lawrence (Stoke City) for Sheridan (58 mins.), Foley (Wolverhampton Wanderers) for Fahey (66 mins.).

Ireland Under-23s: Quigley (Sporting Fingal); Kelly (Dundalk), Browne (Sporting Fingal), Mulcahy (Cork City), Powell (Bohemians); Sheppard (Galway United), O'Donnell (Galway United), Finn (Sporting Fingal), Williams (Sporting Fingal), Dennehy (Shamrock Rovers); Faherty (St. Patrick's Athletic). Subs: Duggan (Shamrock Rovers) for Quigley, Bermingham (Shamrock Rovers) for Powell, Bolger (UCD) for Williams, Chambers (Shamrock Rovers) for Finn, Gaynor (Dundalk) for Sheppard, McCabe (Sligo Rovers) for Dennehy (all at half-time), Amond (Sligo Rovers) for Kelly and Madden (Bohemians) for Faherty (both 60 mins.).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Young Irish get chance to shine

Giovanni Trapattoni has made Paul McShane captain of the Ireland team to play their under-23 counterparts in Malahide this evening.

McShane will play at right full back with Eddie Nolan or Greg Cunningham occupying the other flank.

Everton's Shane Duffy, currently at the centre of an eligibility row having played played underage matches for the North of Ireland, is included at centre half alongside Celtic's Darren O'Dea.

Liam Lawrence will play on the right side of midfield along with newcomers Paul Green and Keith Fahey, with Shane Long selected in an unfamiliar role on the left.

Leon Best and Cillian Sheridan form an experimental strikeforce against an Airtricity League under-23 selection managed by former Cork City and Drogheda United boss Paul Doolin.

The match will be played behind closed doors.

Trapattoni's original squad has been depleted by the loss of David Meyler, Darron Gibson, Stephen Ward and Caleb Folan through injury, while Keith Treacy has returned to Preston after having his hernia problem assessed.

Portsmouth's Marc Wilson and James McCarthy of Wigan are yet to meet up as they nurse knocks, and Manchester City full-back Greg Cunningham has been added to the squad which trained for the first time on Sunday night.

Many of the bigger names - Richard Dunne, Stephen Kelly, Kevin Kilbane, Sean St Ledger, Aiden McGeady, Damien Duff, Glenn Whelan, Keith Andrews, Kevin Doyle and Robbie Keane - will join up next Sunday.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Irish success in end of season awards

Kevin Doyle - Wolves. Players’ player of the year award.

Doyle scooped the squad’s vote and top scorer for his eight goals in the Premier League at a star-studded bash at Telford’s International Centre.

Robbie Keane – Celtic. Fans player of the Year award.

16 goals from Robbie since his arrival on loan at Parkhead in January, has earned him the supporters player of the year award.

Richard Dunne – Aston Villa. Players’ player of the year & also part of the Premier League Team of the Year.

Dunne modestly attributed his Villa honour to the efforts of Martin O’Neill’s entire squad throughout the course of the season.

Stephen Hunt – Hull City. Official supporters player of the year

The Irish winger who scored six goals in 27 games before picking up a foot injury, won the award at a presentation evening held at the KC Stadium. Hunt is likely to move from Hull during the summer.

James McCarthy – Wigan. Player’s young player of the year.

In his first season at Wigan, McCarthy was the unanimous choice of his fellow professionals for the young player of the season award. He also scooped third in the overall player of the season award.

Aiden McGeady – Celtic. Players’ player of the year.

Voted player of the year by his fellow celtic teammates. Linked with a summer move to premiership side Birmingham.

Kieren Westwood – Coventry City. Players’ player of the year & supporters player of the year.

Ireland goalkeeper Keiren Westwood was confirmed as Coventry City’s supporters Player of the Year for 2009/10 and also scooped the Players’ Player of the of the Year award.

Adam Rooney - Caley Thistle - Scottish PFA Division One Player of the Year.

The former Ireland u21 international striker, who was voted the PFA Division One Player of the Year earlier this month, has attracted recent interest from clubs in England & Scotland, with English Championship side Doncaster Rovers the latest to be linked with the Irishman.

Shane Duffy – Everton. Reserve player of the year.

Everton Reserve Player of the Season was Derry’s young Irish centre-back Shane Duffy who broke through to David Moyes first team early in the campaign, impressing with his gutsy displays in Europa League action. Duffy has been included in Giovanni Trapattoni’s upcoming training camp in Dublin.

Joe Mason - Plymouth Argyle – Young player of the year

Ireland u19 striker Joe Mason was voted Plymouth Argyle player of the year. Mason made his breakthrough into the Pilgrims senior team this season with a debut against Sheffield United at Home Park in December and went on to play a further 19 times for Argyle, scoring three goals. He has won a call-up to the Ireland squad for the upcoming Under-19 European Championships qualifiers in Ukraine later this month.

Aidan O’Brien – Millwall. Schoolboy player of the year.

Ireland u17 international Aiden O’Brien scooped the Millwall schoolboy player of the year award after an impressive season for the u18 ‘lions’. O’Brien scored two of Ireland’s three goals in the final elite stage qualifying game against Austria which saw the u17 team heartbreakingly lose out on the finals to Greece.

Richard Keogh – Carlisle United – Player of the year

Former Ireland u21 international Richard Keogh was presented with his award before Carlisle’s final home game against Walsall. Keogh has recently been linked with a move to Hibernian.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Connor Clifford captains Chelsea to victory

Ireland under-21 international Connor Clifford has captained Chelsea to victory in the FA Youth Cup final, scoring the winner in a 2-1 (3-2 agg) victory over Aston Villa.

More than 10,000 people were at Stamford Bridge to see the Blues claim the first of three potential trophies this season, with the Premier League and FA Cup still well within their grasp.

With the scores level at 1-1 from the first leg, Villa took an early lead and claimed an away goal courtesy of a header from striker Kofi Poyser on 33 minutes.

That goal was harsh on Chelsea who had dominated for large spells, but it wasn't until the 65th minute that they drew level as Marko Mitrovic equalised with a close-range finish after some neat play from Jacopo Sala out on the wing.

Chelsea pushed for a winner but with just minutes left on the clock, it looked unlikely to come until skipper Clifford found some space 20 yards from goal and let fly with a rocket which sailed staight to the back of the net.

'It is a dream come true,' Clifford told the official Chelsea website. 'I am delighted. We had personal goals at the beginning of the season and I said mine was to lift the Youth Cup as captain, and I have done it now. It hasn't sunk in yet, it is brilliant.'

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Seamus Coleman looking for Blackpool promotion

Ireland u21 international Seamus Coleman's promotion hopes remain on track after his Blackpool side squeezed into the Championship play-offs on Sunday.

The side managed by Ian Holloway endured a nervous afternoon against Bristol City and could only muster a 1-1 draw. Brett Ormerod headed an equaliser after Nicky Maynard gave the visitors the lead with a spectacular 25-yard dipping volley in front of 12,296 fans, the biggest crowd at Bloomfield Road for 30 years.

The draw, though, was good enough as Blackpool finished the season in sixth place, a point ahead of Swansea who drew 0-0 with Doncaster. Blackpool now play Nottingham Forest over two legs, at home on Saturday before visiting the City Ground this day week. The winner will meet either Cardiff City or Leicester City at Wembley on 22 May for a place in the Premier League.

Coleman, from Killybegs in County Donegal, is on loan at Blackpool from Everton and is expected to return to Goodison Park in the summer. Since the 21-year-old joined Blackpool in March, they have taken 20 points from a possible 27, losing only once and that was against Championship winners Newcastle United.