For the second year running, Lincoln City’s Academy invited the Mayo Young Player of the Year over from Ireland.

Mark Birrane from Ballina, the winner of the 2018 award, joined up with the Academy recently over a three day stay and here he talks about his experience with the Imps…

You recently picked up the Young Player of the Year in Mayo, what did it feel like to pick up such a prestigious award? 

“It was a brilliant night and the young player of the year award was the second last award on the night so it was quite a nerve wracking wait, but I was delighted to win and then the chance to come over here to Lincoln City made it perfect.”

How would you look back at your time in Lincoln? 

“We flew in on Sunday night, it’s a lovely place and we’ve been busy since we got here! We were here all day on Monday and we went to play a game in Leicester in the evening. Everyone has been really friendly, people can’t do enough for us it’s been brilliant.”

You mention the game in Leicester, did you enjoy that?

“The game was good, I played the full 90 minutes, it was a mix of age groups so there were lads who hadn’t played together and we were up against an older team. It was very competitive. Personally, I was happy enough with my performance, in a situation where the circumstances are unfamiliar.”

Is this the first time you’ve played away from home?

“No, I’ve been away from home with football before, I went away with the under 13’s and we went to a week of football in Derbyshire. We played Man United, Derby, Leicester and Watford. That was a great experience then in the Kennedy Cup in Ireland, it’s the biggest competition in youth football in Ireland.”

So comparing football back in Ireland to your time at Sincil Bank, how do the two compare?

“The setup here is phenomenal really, there’s a huge difference. You’re in the fourth tier in England, but even the top division in Ireland still wouldn’t be completely full time and would only train two or three times per week. Football over here, with the facilities and everything is really different to back home.”

So what would you say was the biggest thing you can take from your time here at Lincoln City?

“Even yesterday just watching the first team train and being around the managers, they’ve been so successful and a revelation since they came to the club so being around them and learning from them and the detail in which they look at the game. Then from the playing perspective learning from the coaches here too they’ve been excellent as well, it’s just different way of playing, lots of things really. I could go on for hours.

“It would be great if I was to be asked to come back here, I’d love to be a footballer like most people and I’ve been putting in the work and trying to dedicate myself to it, so if the chance were to come up that I was to be asked to come back, that would be fantastic.”