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Waterford FC U19s go in search of their first league win today in the SSE Airtricity League U19 Southern Elite Division when they face a Limerick FC side at the University of Limerick, 2pm kick off. Manager David Breen caught up with ahead of the game and shared his thoughts on the season so far.

With a number of players stepping up to the first team lately, Breen reflected on the changes made within the youth structure at the club to provide the best platform for player development. Speaking on the call-ups for Jack Lynch and others, Breen said:

“Jack Lynch has been the lead figure in terms of our current U19 panel who have made the step up. He’s performed well with his time on the pitch for the first time and we’re quietly confident that there are a few more guys that are capable of making the step up.

“John Martin and Darryl Walsh have both picked up International honours of late and trained with the first team while we have a couple of exciting guys who have gone under the radar like Michael Carroll and Shane Griffin who have been called in. We’re confident there will be more before the year ends and it’s great to see that there is an opportunity there if the players commit themselves and make the step up. Alan (Reynolds) and Pat (Fenlon) are there at training and seeing these guys and are constantly in contact to receive feedback from ourselves at U19 level so that’s great to see.”

With a winless start to the league campaign despite some promising performances, Breen and his coaching staff have implemented some changes in the squad including a more professional approach to the set up. The U19 manager outlined their new approach:

“We’ve introduced a Strength and Conditioning Coach and a Sport’s Psychologist as well to give the players the best opportunities to develop their game at Waterford FC. In recent weeks we’ve brought in some rules and regulations around the squad that will benefit the lads going forward.

“They are young guys and they are learning their trade so need to have a set up as professional as possible. Between myself, Paul (Cashin), Conor (Coad) and Billy (Hearne) we’ve done that and the few lads that have stepped up to the first team have certainly warranted their call and benefitted from the changes.  

“We’ve made the set up as professional and as close to the first team structure as possible so that when the senior management call upon our lads, they are ready to make the step up.”

Breen has seen some encouraging signs in recent weeks:

“In terms of our own season, we’re looking to get our first win. When we do that, the lads will enjoy it. Our performances have gradually improved week to week and our best performance came in our last outing against Shamrock Rovers at the RSC where we played really well and created enough chances to win the game.

“Things are coming together nicely but we’re just waiting for that first win. We’re naturally anxious to get that but as soon as we do, the lads will settle down and confidence will grow allowing them to hopefully kick on from there.”

With the trip to Limerick today an important marker for how far the side has come, Breen and his management team go into the match with a strong panel.

“We’ll be without Jack Lynch against his former side as the injury to Patrick McClean on Friday night means we have to be careful not to pick up any more defensive problems with the first team and give Jack the best opportunity to be fit if he is called upon next week against Wexford.

“Darryl Walsh remains away with the Ireland U17 panel at the Euro Finals in Croatia while Dara Keane is a long-term injury. We haven’t seen Dara this year yet but we are looking forward to getting him back. He’s started into individual training and he’ll be like a new signing when he returns with a lot to offer the team.

“We’ve gone into the last couple of games with a few niggles but benefitted from no match scheduled last weekend so we have Tunmise Sobowale back in the fold and Jake Mooney too as well as being able to call upon Owen Wall following his first team duties lately. Sean Roche has also recovered from a small ankle strain so overall we travel to Limerick with a strong panel.

“We’re looking forward to the game. Limerick are a decent side and as we have done all year, we’ll give a good account of ourselves and target the win.”

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