Connor Gormely of Derry City Reserves
It’s a big week for Connor Gormley as he combines action for club and country.
On Thursday, Gormley is part of the Republic of Ireland Schools team that faces Northern Ireland in the Centenary Shield, while he is expected to feature for Derry City Reserves against Cockhill Celtic in the 4 Lanterns Ulster Senior League on Sunday.
The Ramelton man had been out of action since mid-October with a knee injury that required surgery in January, but his recent return coincided with an international call-up from Irish Schools manager Paddy O’Reilly.
“It’s been amazing to be a part of the Irish set-up,” he said.
“Especially with me being injured for so long, I didn't really expect to be a part of it but I'm over the moon.
“We haven't had too much training together as a squad. The trials have been on since October, so I’m lucky enough to be on it.”
Finn Harps pair Shane Blaney and Jamie Bell are also on the Irish panel, while Gormley, a student at Loreto Community School in Milford, is aiming to be in on the game this week at Clandeboye Park.
He said: “It’s a big help having Shane and Jamie on the team. It's a great representation for the county.
“Any local derby like this is going to be a big game, but I never quite thought I would be part of an Ireland team to play Northern Ireland. It’ll be a great experience.”
Gormley has been winning admiration too for his displays in the Candystripes.
He’s one of a whole host of Donegal youngsters aiming to make a breakthrough at Derry.
Kenny Shiels has shown, in his deployment of the likes of Ronan Curtis, Conor McDermott, Ben Doherty and others, that he isn’t afraid to give youth its head.
Gormley said: “There are great opportunities in Derry, especially with Kenny being the manager because he’s very supportive of the young boys.
“It’s very exciting especially with the first team being in Europe.
“It’s great to have a manager who believes in the youth in the club and is willing to give us our chance.”
A recent win over Letterkenny Rovers, a 3-2 triumph in extra-time, shot Derry into the Donegal News USL Cup final – which will be another chance for Gormley and company to impress.
The USL has certainly proved good grounding for the young Derry players.
Gormley said: “It is good preparation mentally because you're playing against men.
“Every man wants to win every match they play in but it's good to be able to develop, even if that means losing a match here and there.”
His father, Eunan, is a stalwart at Swilly Rovers. Their links to Derry City go back in time and right up to now with Gormley and co looking to follow in Barry McNamee’s footsteps.
He said: “Swilly have a good track record in producing players so it’s great to keep up the links to Derry City. It’s a great chance for us to be getting now at a club like Derry that is going well in the League of Ireland.”
4 Lanterns Ulster Senior League
Sunday, March 5, 2pm
Cockhill Celtic v Derry City Reserves
Fanad United v Finn Harps Reserves
Letterkenny Rovers v Bonagee United
TOP GOALSCORERS (LEAGUE ONLY)
Cathal Farren (Derry City Reserves) 9
Darren McElwaine (Letterkenny Rovers) 7
Mark Moran (Cockhill Celtic) 6
Jimmy Bradley (Cockhill Celtic) 5
Laurence Toland (Swilly Rovers) 5
Aaron McCready (Finn Harps Reserves) 4
Gerard McLaughlin (Cockhill Celtic) 4