Ardee’s Desmond Jibona is off to England this summer to link up one of British football’s most renowned football academies, West Ham United.
The teenager, who has come through the ranks at Ardee Celtic and featured for senior, second and third teams, has been enrolled in West Ham’s football scholarship and as of the 2017/18 season, will look to feature for the club’s Under 18 academy side.
A student of Ardee Community School and native of Collon, Jibona will continue his senior cycle education in England whilst training and playing with the London-based Premier League side.
The teenager made his first team debut in the 2015/16 season and last year played most of his football for the new Ardee Celtic third team, which won promotion from the NEFL B Reserve League in the first year of competitive action. The attacker scored 19 goals in total as the team enjoyed a stellar year.
He also was part of the Under 17 Dundalk League winning side in 2016 and can now look forward to furthering his football education further at one of England’s most well known clubs for the nurturing of young talent. West Ham’s youth system is known as The Academy of Football.
Past players who have started their career at the Hammers include Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Harry Redknapp, Trevor Brooking, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard Jnr, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Jermain Defoe, Glen Johnson and Mark Noble.
On the final day of the Premier League season, 18-year-old Irish defender Declan Rice made his debut for Slaven Bilic’s first team and went onto be called up by Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill for an international training camp in Cork.
Rice is a Republic of Ireland Under 19 international and he joins Josh Cullen as the latest young Irish youngster to make an appearance for the Irons at Premier League level.
Writing on Facebook, Ardee Celtic stated, “We are delighted that Dessie has been afforded this oportunity and wish him well in what will be a demanding time for him across the water.”
Jibona wrote, “Thanks everyone and thanks Ardee Celtic for everything, it’s been a pleasure playing for the club – wish yous all the best in the future.”
The news comes just days after Ardee Celtic confirmed that teenage duo Tristan Knowles and Trevor Matthews had left the club to play SSE Airtricity Under 19 League football with the Monaghan United Cavan Football Partnership. Neill Kerr has also moved onto Dundalk FC.
Speaking to ThisIsArdee.ie, juvenile secretary Frank Dowdall said that young players reaching these levels of the game were testament to the groundwork that has been put in place at the club.
“It’s brilliant for him,” he said. “It used to be that if you wanted to be seen, you had to play in Dublin. If you stay local and play local and you’re good enough, you’re going to get picked up. Not anymore.
“You’re taking kids from four or five to Under 17. If we can bring them through and encourage them, they know the door is always open and the phone is always on. Because there will be hard times. We’re always open.”
“The chance to get scouted and play at a higher level can only improve these lads. You have to encourage them.”