Glenavon’s U19 squad finished in ninth place in PSV’s Otten Cup, finishing above Rapid Vienna, UNA Brinvast and Widzew Lodz.
The young Blues, whose average age of 16.8 years was lower than most of their opponents, had a tough start to the tournament, losing their first four games without scoring but a 2-1 victory over Widzew Lodz and a 4-0 win over Dutch side UNA Brinvast in the 9th/10th place play-off meant it was a pleasing trip.
It really was a baptism of fire for the boys as they were beaten 8-0 on Friday morning by a Benfica side that contained many Portugese junior internationals.
That afternoon, Glenavon’s performance was much improved and they were unlucky to lose 1-0 to Eintracht Braunschweig, another German side, as Robbie McDaid’s late effort came back off the crossbar. A double from Finnish youth international Rahimi ensured victory for home side PSV on Saturday morning as the Blues were denied a penalty shout just before his second.
Glenavon were therefore still searching for their first goal and first point of the tournament come Saturday afternoon. And with Real Madrid up next, it was always going to be a tough ask.
Eventual tournament winners Madrid even hit double figures in their 10-0 win but the chance to grace the same pitch as these future stars was a treat for Glenavon’s teenagers, who weren’t helped by the dismissal of captain Jordan Dane for a second yellow card just after the break.
It had been a tough couple of days but as the Blues could have tired from their efforts in over 30 degree heat, they improved, picking up their two victories on Sunday.
After going a goal down to Polish side Widzew Lodz in their final group game, Glenavon came back as Robbie McDaid equalised after good work from Ryan Corrigan and Lee Doherty.
It was provider turned scorer for the winner as Corrigan curled in a free-kick with nine minutes to go to ensure the Blues didn’t finish bottom of the group.
The 9th/10th place play-off game was all too easy for Glenavon as they outclassed their opponents, UNA Brinvast, who stepped in to replace Germany’s FC Magdeburg. Winger Andrew Hoey opened the scoring before Rhys Marshall and a McDaid penalty made it 3-0 before Johnny Dallas rounded off the scoring in a fantastic display.
It was a pleasing end to the side’s trip away and a great preparation as the youngsters return home to continue their bid to break into Glenavon’s first team.