Monday 19 May 2014
Kevin Sheedy believes Everton's Barclays Under-18 Premier League title is a key moment in the side's evolution, saying, "mentally, that will do all the players the world of good".
"The Youth Cup is the short route to success, but winning the league against a lot of very, very good teams speaks volumes for the whole squad"
The Everton Under-18 manager watched his side beat Manchester City 1-0 in the end-of-season play-off final at Goodison Park, with Harry Charsley's 54th-minute strike proving the difference in an open contest.
Having exited at the semi-final stage last season, Sheedy expressed great satisfaction at seeing his side rise to the occasion when the pressure was on this time around.
"I'm really delighted for them," he told evertontv. "They're a great set of lads who have worked so hard all season. I kept saying to them we are the best team in the league week-in, week-out. The Youth Cup is the short route to success, but winning the league against a lot of very, very good teams speaks volumes for the whole squad. I'm really proud of them.
"Last year we got to the semi-finals of the league and quarter-finals of the Youth Cup, which we did again this year. I challenged them. I said we needed to go one better than the semi-final. We needed to get to the final and win it and start winning the mental battles, which they've done with two really good performances. Mentally, that will do all the players the world of good."
Sheedy paid tribute to the way his side held firm against a vibrant City side, who created numerous chances without finding the crucial breakthrough, thanks in no small part to Everton goalkeeper Russell Griffiths.
"Our performance was very good against a strong Manchester City team," Sheedy said. "They pushed us right to the wire but we defended magnificently. We got blocks in and covered every blade of grass. We got what we deserved.
"Russell was absolutely outstanding. He made some tremendous saves and he's got better as the season has gone on, but it was a team effort and I'm really proud of that."
Griffiths was also delighted at the culmination of what he described as a "long season" and paid tribute to Sheedy for instilling a sense of belief within the squad.
"It was a brilliant effort from the lads and the fans really made it special"
"There's been ups and downs but Kevin got us all together, we've been training well and it's fully deserved," the captain told Everton TV. "The real vibe around the club has been brilliant. We knew it was coming and we're so happy it came off today.
"That has to the best clean sheet this season, coming from the front right to our back-four. It was a brilliant effort from the lads and the fans really made it special. It was really helpful them being here."
Despite their success Sheedy says the work has begun to prepare for next year's title defence.
"We've got a full programme in pre-season so we'll have a little break now to recharge the batteries," he said. "I said to some of the younger lads that this is the standard and we'll be looking to do the same next year.
"We've got a great group of players coming in added to what we've already got, so I'm really looking forward to next season."
Saturday 17 May
Everton (Charsley) 1-0 Manchester City