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*U18 Euro Champion: Celtic and Republic of Ireland's Gerard Crossley

Gerry Crossley needs no introduction if you have been a regular reader of the Andersonstown News over the summer.

The Finaghy lad has had an unforgettable season, culminating in a European champions winners medal with the Republic of Ireland U18s and a call up to Mick McCarthy's senior Republic squad. Quite an achievement for the Glasgow Celtic reserve who is still only 18-years of age.

The Republic's youth boss, Brian Kerr, has spent the summer singing the praises of the West Belfast midfielder who played in every game during the Republic's magnificent run in Cyprus last month, now Crossley wants to take it a step further.

This season two U21 players will have to be included on the bench for every Scottish Premier Division game, and with this being the inaugural season of the Scottish U21 League Gerry believes he has a great chance of making the breakthrough for Celtic - the club he has supported since childhood.

"It's a great opportunity for me and the younger players at the club to make an impression on the new manager," he said from the team's Dublin hotel, where the youth teams have been based during their tour of Ireland, playing the reserve and youth squads of Sligo and Shelbourne.

"I haven't had a chance to meet the new Celtic manager yet as I only came back from Cyprus and then returned to the club on Friday just in time to fly back to Ireland.

"Hopefully I'll get more of a chance this season than last season of breaking into the first team, and if I keep plugging away then I should get my chance to prove myself in the first team."

The former Celtic Boys Club player says that being part of a European championship winning team has focussed his mind on what he needs to do to achieve his goal. And there's no chance that his recent success will go to his head.

With virtually no time off over the close season the Celtic dynamo could well do with a break but he's looking forward to the new season and the opportunities that lay ahead.

*Hat-trick hero: Philip Mulryne has already been capped five times by the North

Philip Mulryne's three goals in the pre-season friendly against Birmingham City against St Andrew's a fortnight ago certainly caught the headlines.

At the end of last season the former La Salle pupil said this season would be the big one. With his first ever hat-trick he seems intent in making that determination come true.

Philip admitted that at times it's frustrating languishing in the reserves after four years at Manchester United but now it appears that all the hard work is about to come to fruition. Last season the Lenadoon man played for United in the last game of the season against Barnsley and also took part in the tour of the Far East with the club. There is no doubt that Philip has a future in the English game at a high level but he is determined to make that future with Manchester United.

His performance against Birmingham, in place of crest fallen David Beckham, will have done his prospects for this season no harm at all. It was a game in which he was the only one of the United fringe players to shine in the 4-3 defeat. Alex Ferguson's reluctance to add any more midfielders to his squad during the summer may be an indication that Philip will have more of a role to play in the first team this season.

He still has a couple of years to run on his contract which illustrates just how important United view his capabilities - the contract is an extension on his first.

Already capped five times by the North the former Lámh Dhearg man won the last of his caps against Spain in the summer during a pre-World Cup warm up in Seville. Laurie McMenemy has already spoken warmly about the young United man's talents and he is firmly in the Northern Ireland manager's plans for the future.

When the season kicks off in earnest Philip Mulryne will be pushing for a place in the Manchester United first team. As he says, this season could well be the big one.

*Ormeau Road man Brian Vaugh who played for Celtic on their recent tour of Holland

Like Gerry Crossley club mate Brian Vaugh from the Ormeau Road knows that this season he has a great opportunity to make an impression at Glasgow Celtic.

Now at Celtic since 16, he says the new U21 League and the decision to include at least two U21 players on the bench during Premier games has spurred many of the players at the Glasgow club who were ignored by manager Wim Jansen last season in favour of seasoned professionals. With the club having bought no new players over the summer there is a feeling that youth will finally be given its chance.

The former Rosario player who played for the Celts reserves 25 times last season finding the net on three occasions says he has also been heartened by comments from new boss Josef Venglos that he will be taking more of an interest in the youth players at the club than his predecessor, and already he has been given his chance.

"I was included in the first team that played in Wim Jansen's last game against Lisbon at the end of last season," he revealed. "At the start of this season the club toured Holland and I played in both matches, coming on as a sub and starting the second. The first game I was used in the centre of midfield and in the second I played wing back."

During the game against Sligo this week Brian played at left back, and thought he done enough to impress youth manager Willie McStay.

"I've met the new boss and he made a big impression on me, hopefully I can impress him during the season."

*Looking to make the breakthrough: Bolton's Noel Corrigan

Twinbrook's Noel Corrigan is back at Bolton having signed professional forms for the Lancashire club at the end of last season.

Now in Division One Noel hopes to break into the first team in the coming season, although there have been a number of changes at the Reebok over the summer. The World Cup has brought an influx of players from France '98 with John Sheridan, Gerry Taggart and Chris Fairclough going in the opposite direction.

But the 18-year-old former St Colm's pupil says there is a real buzz around the club with an expectancy to win promotion at the first attempt.

Noel kept himself fit over the summer which has paid off now that the season is about to start.

"Since I've come back I've been playing out on the right, centre mid-field and right wing back. The friendlies have gone really well and the reserve league starts next week, but I'm just waiting until the games start to get more competitive then hopefully I'll make an impression," Noel said from his Bolton digs.

"If I keep injury free I will get my chance and when that comes along I will take it. But it's great to be back at the club and hopefully I'll make my mark this season."

Doug Vaugh, England 20 April 2000          Copies page               Home               Back to Geneaolgy