Stevenson praises U17s after league title win

Monday 5th June

St. Johnstone recently retained their U17 Development League title following a home win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Olly Hamilton, John Robertson and Euan O’Reilly were the scorers as the youngsters ran out 3-2 winners.

The Saints website spoke to Alistair Stevenson on the league win: “It’s a fantastic achievement yet again. We would have won it had we beaten Celtic a couple of weeks before but with the game at 3-3 they managed to score a goal on the breakaway to win it. That defeat against Celtic was our first in two years.

“Against Inverness, Euan O’Reilly grabbed the winner after earlier goals from Olly Hamilton and John Robertson. Inverness were the only team who could have caught us so it was a great victory.

“The players have been improving all the time. They were absolutely outstanding at the start and at the middle of the season but to be fair the form dipped for the last few games but we put that down to it being exam time. We didn’t want them in training during that time because we wanted them to get the best results at school, so that disrupted their training a wee bit but they managed to grind out the results in the end.

“They ended the season well but they also started it well by winning the St. Andrews Tournament, which was a really good achievement against five other big clubs including Hibs, Hearts and Dundee United. Finishing ahead of those clubs was a really good achievement.

“Another big feather in our cap was that three of the boys from the U17s got international recognition. Euan O’Reilly, Nathan Brown and Cameron Ballantyne played for Scotland at U18 level with the Scotland Schoolboys.”

Alistair is also pleased to be able to promote the stand out players from this season’s team to the U20’s side, meaning they will be full-time players at McDiarmid Park.

“Of the U17s group, nine will be starting full-time in the summer for the Development side. Most of the boys have played for the U20’s side already this season so we’re certainly happy with the group who are making that step up.

“The other pleasing thing with this group is that five of the nine who are going full time are local boys from Perth.”

On the other academy sides at McDiarmid Park, Alistair is delighted with the progress each age group is making.

“Once that U17s group moves up to full time it still leaves a really strong U16s group to be the new U17s. They’ve been really strong this season and have played all the top academies and done really well.

“All the youngest kids, at grassroots like the 11s and 12s have done exceptionally well this year, the standard has been very good.

“The 14s and 15s have been excellent as well and have improved over the season. We’re more than happy with the players that we’ve got coming through at every level. We’ve got lots of stars in the making hopefully.

“In the past we’ve always been looking to bring players in from outwith our system. But now we are able to develop our own which is really pleasing.”