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Youth flourishing at exciting Shamrock Rovers Academy

It was a massive risk that Shamrock Rovers took when building their new Roadstone complex to facilitate their youth teams and their evergrowing Academy. It is a risk that is beginning to show its rewards.

In the latest squads at Irish underage levels, Shamrock Rovers had thirteen players represented across all age groups from u15 to u21. This is by far the most of all League of Ireland sides, only closely rivaled by Bohemians. A large amount of the success for this must be proportioned to their facilities out in Roadstone.

Shamrock Rovers first team Manager, Stephen Bradley said: “It shows that we’re on the right track.” It has been a long term plan to complete within the club and despite success already, Bradley insists: “We’re getting there but we need to keep our heads down and keep working hard as a club.” It’s all about the process at Rovers, and seeing young lads come through the setup, and potentially leaving to England is all part of it.

A prime example of the Academy working at its best was the emergence of Gavin Bazunu. Bazunu, who is a  young seventeen year old goalkeeper, has just been sold to Manchester City for £600,000 plus future incentives. Bazunu came through the Rovers Academy, “it’s all part of the process.”

Bradley believes that this approach is the right one and said: “It’s starting to show with some of the players getting International recognition.” The three players involved in the u21 squad are part of the Rovers first team squad; Trevor Clarke, Brandon Kavanagh and Aaron Bolger, who is spending the next few months on loan with Cardiff City.

A potential permanent move to Cardiff for Bolger could confirm another big transaction out of the club’s Academy. All sales made from Academy players further justify Shamrock Rovers decision to invest heavily in their youth setup back in 2017. The whole deal was rumoured to have been around the one and a half million mark. So far, it’s been so good.

Trevor Clarke, who featured in the League of Ireland team of the season in 2017 at the age of eighteen, missed the majority of last year after doing knee ligament damage. However, he is back now and Bradley is keen to mind the player: “He’s an important player for us, he gives us so much on the pitch. We need to manage him and to be careful with him but it’s great to have him back.”

Despite his massive absence, Clarke was immediately back in Stephen Kenny’s u21 Republic of Ireland squad, just showing off the regard he is held in.

Times are exciting at Shamrock Rovers and it will be the club’s vision to keep the good groundwork that they have already built at Roadstone. Bradley concluded by saying: “We need to keep focused and accolades like this will come for the players. It’s a nice reward for everyone involved in the setup.”

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