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Arsenal (A) Sun 1 Mar 2015, 14:05, Barclays Premier League

by Daniel Alston @efc_danalston

Everton v Newcastle

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Kevin Sheedy says he was beaming with pride as Everton lifted the Barclays Under-18 Premier League title on Saturday evening.

The young Blues were crowned champions after a 1-0 win against Manchester City in the end of season play-off final at Goodison Park.

And after suffering heartbreak at the semi-final stage last term, Sheedy believes his players have learned how to embrace the big occasions.

He told evertontv: "I'm really delighted for them. 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."

Harry Charsley's 54th-minute strike was the difference in an end-to-end contest against the Citizens, but there were no shortage of heroes in Royal Blue.

Goalkeeper and captain Russell Griffiths was in commanding form to keep the visitors at bay and Sheedy heaped praise on his youngsters at the final whistle.

He added: "Our performance was very good against a strong Manchester City team. They pushed us right to the wire but I thought 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."

The season is finally over for the Under-18s, but the hard work continues throughout the summer ad Sheedy admits he is already excited for the next campaign.

"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."

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