stpatsfc.com has been reflecting on a league title winning year for our U17 team that saw the young reds finish top of the U17 Northern Elite Division with 17 wins, 2 draws and just 1 defeat from their 20 league matches.
Manager Jamie Moore, Captain Paul Cleary and midfielder Luke Nolan have all been looking back on a fantastic 2016; in the final of our series of interviews with the U17 group, we hear from Republic of Ireland youth international Luke 'Spooner' Nolan.
Having signed for St. Pats at the start of the 2015 season as a 14 year old, he was unable to play in the opening four league games of last season as he was too young. However once that hurdle had been passed, Nolan has played a very important role in the squad in a number of positions and started by talking about the night his team won the league final against UCD.
"The final against UCD was a great night. We started the game poorly, our build up play was too slow but as the game went on we improved, I felt really calm throughout the game as we scored in all but one match up to that point and thankfully we got two to win it in style. There is nothing better than that winning feeling."
"I think we were the best team but that didn't just happen overnight, it took months of hard work to get there by all the boys and the gaffer and all of the staff. Jamie put in a huge amount of hard work along with the other staff and the players and it paid off."
"We try to replicate the first team and what the first team do in terms of training and also Liam's philosophy which is all about keeping the ball and working through the thirds which I feel we were very successful in doing."
One of the key aspects in the Saints' success however according to the Republic of Ireland youth international was the bond and team spirit amongst the group. Nolan pointed to this as a key element in getting the Saints over the line not only in key matches during the season, but in keeping them motivated throughout the season.
"We all had a big bond together which I think that came from seeing each other so much spending lots of time together and being as professional as we could be in terms of what we did before and after training sessions and games etc, that helps a lot as we would have done anything for each other on the pitch."
"I've really enjoyed my time at Pats so far, it's been fantastic. It's by far the club to be at. Everything we do is done properly, and we are treated like professional footballers, the coaches put the pressure on us to perform to our best every time we are in the gym, training or playing and that's what we want. It's not a pressure to win, it's a pressure to perform all the time."
But what now for the 2017 season? Having come so close to the double in the season gone by, what targets does Nolan and his fellow 'Supersaints' have in mind?
"Our aim is to continue to do that next season, I'm looking forward to a little break now because it's been a long season, then we'll be back in training in early January before the season starts again in March, hopefully we can do the same as this year if not better and keep laughing along the way."
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