COMMENT: Blackpool-bound Shayne Lavery was making his Irish League mark at 15
Ask those with an insider’s insight at Linfield about Blackpool-bound Shayne Lavery and the conversation is peppered with plaudits for his humility, drive and mental strength...on top of the obvious talent.
Those hidden characteristics, impossible to measure by the same metrics as the goals and glory of Lavery’s two-year legacy at Linfield stand fundamental to a journey in which the Northern Ireland international had to return home to rebuild before securing his second shot at full-time football in England.
Although significantly shaped by his experiences in Linfield blue, not least the increased resolve having managed to shine under the intense spotlight of Windsor Park expectations, that crucial combination of steel and silk has been evident in Lavery from his first steps into Irish League life.
Back in April 2014 a teenage Lavery, then just 15 years old, stepped out on the final stage of Irish League football’s biggest club youth tournament and grabbed the moment.
The under 18s’ Harry Cavan Youth Challenge Cup final at Mourneview Park was won by Portadown Thirds against a Crusaders Colts side that included in Gavin Whyte and Cameron Stewart, respectively, a future Northern Ireland international and established Irish League presence.
Lavery had been promoted from the club’s Portadown Youth set-up thanks to a talent impossible to ignore despite his opponents having the advantage in terms of years and physicality.
Lavery finished with the ‘Man-of-the-Match’ award, essentially his final act of note with Portadown before signing with Mid-Ulster rivals Glenavon and providing an assist in the following season’s Harry Cavan Youth Challenge Cup final for the rare privilege of back-to-back winner’s medals across two different clubs.
Coaching staff who worked with Lavery in those early years were impressed at the balance of proving so unassuming off the field but fearless on it, relishing the chance to embrace every challenge.
Lavery has experienced numerous significant moments since that April night under the Lurgan floodlights but with every step rooted in those same fundamentals.
A look at the teamsheets from those youth finals, at so many names once considered some of our brightest prospects now long-forgotten, will show just how difficult the transition can be from potential to proven talent.
It is testament to Lavery’s inner resolve that he was able to rise above the ranks and earn his initial move to Everton - then have the drive to thrive with Linfield as a platform on which to reclaim that prized shot in England now at Blackpool.
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper whenever you are able to do so.
Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world.
But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper when you can safely.
You can also enjoy unlimited access to the best news from across Northern Ireland and the UK by subscribing to newsletter.co.uk
With a digital subscription, you can read more than five articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.