Young Irishman in the spotlight.
First-year scholar Steven McCarthy joined the club from Ireland in the summer of 2012 and has been one of the stars of Craig Liddle’s table-topping under-18 side in recent weeks.
McCarthy hails from Skibbereen in County Cork and despite a difficult start to life in the north east he is now delighted to be settled down in Wearside.
And he told safc.com the feeling he experienced when he was asked to sign for the Black Cats was like no other before.
At the start it took me a while to settle in and training every day was different but I think since November time I’ve really got going and got used to everything
- Steven McCarthy
“I started off playing with my local team in Ireland, Skibbereen FC, for my entire young career then after that I got picked up by Sunderland,” McCarthy said.
“I went on trial at 14, kept coming over, and then I found out that I was going to be given a scholarship when I was 16 – I was on trial for a year or two.
“It was amazing, such a brilliant feeling, especially with where I’m from, a little town in Ireland, it’s never happened before in that area so it was a massive thing.
“I find it [relocating to Sunderland] good now. At the start it took me a while to settle in and training every day was different but I think since November time I’ve really got going and got used to everything.”
The under-18’s have won four of their last five games, a run which has seen them go five points clear at the top of their group in the Barclays U18 Premier League.
And with two massive games against second and third placed Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool ahead of them, McCarthy, who scored his first goal for the U18s in a 2-0 win away at Stoke a fortnight ago, feels it’s a massive opportunity for the young side to reach the play-offs of the youth set-up.
“We’re doing really well, we’re delighted, and we’re on a brilliant run at the moment at the top of the table so hopefully we can make it into the play-offs now,” he said.
“The whole team is buzzing and we’re confident as well so it’s going well.
“Scoring my first goal was a brilliant feeling but it was great to get win as well.
“I think the team bond has grown over the past few months and we’re really together, that’s what’s pulling us through, making us win and encouraging each other more.”
And, though, the players are taking a lot of credit for their performances in recent weeks, McCarthy pointed the finger at his coaches, who he describes as ‘top-drawer’.
“Lidds [Craig Liddle] has helped me settle in and worked with me one-to-one on stuff that I wouldn’t have learnt back home that I needed to pick up on here.
“There was quite a bit that I needed to improve on in terms of getting to know my position more; he’s been very good with that and brought on my game.
“I’ve seen clips back now where my movement’s come on loads, I’ve just got to keep improving and hopefully, as a team, we’ll get into the play-offs.”