BY ROB McCARRY
Following their fourth consecutive SFA Youth Cup last year and 13th in total many thought that the green half of Glasgow would be dominating the landscape at that particular level for the foreseeable future. However Rangers under-20â€™s side appear to have other ideas. Running their traditional rivals agonisingly close in the league before having the title snatched away in the last game, they will have the chance gain redemption by lifting the Youth Cup tomorrow night if they can overcome a seasoned Hearts side in the final at St. Mirren Park.
Speaking to talented central midfielder, Andy Murdoch, at Murray Park today it was clear that the former Everton Boys Club starlet believed that this would be a genuine opportunity both to show a dramatic improvement in their development program and stake his claim for a regular starting berth in the first team.
He was cautiously optimistic this represented a change it momentum at this level, â€œI think itâ€™s been a good effort considering we were probably underdogs but we pushed Celtic to the wire and after playing so well in the league it was disappointing to lose it with the last game of the season. Now we want to put a marker down for next year by winning this trophy.â€.
Having spent six years at the club he is readily aware of the difficulties faced by youth players looking to make the step up, but having broken into Ally McCoistâ€™s squad this term he recognises the only way to stay there is through dedication, â€œItâ€™s difficult to work your way into the first team but you just have to keep training and we have players like Calum Gallagher who have impressed and played for the first team and myself so itâ€™s not going too badly for some of us just now. Iâ€™ll just need to push on in pre-season and hope Iâ€™m part of the clubâ€™s plans.â€
Despite his hopes for the future, Andy was determined not to overlook his sides next opponents and was aware that, with Hearts having problems of their own off the park, many of the playerâ€™s he will be lining up against at the national stadium tomorrow night would have tasted first team football this season. â€œThey have players that will have played twenty or more games this season at the top level so itâ€™ll be difficult task considering their experience.â€.
â€œThey are a good team who break quickly and weâ€™ll have to watch out for that but it should be a pretty even contest. Itâ€™s been a long season for them considering the situation they found themselves in but theyâ€™ve done well to get where they are.â€.
Looking past this game and the following campaign this young star was keen to stress that his dreams lay higher, hoping to win league titles, trebles and modestly admitting Champions League football â€œwould be niceâ€ and, if such things were based on charm alone, no one would begrudge him achieving all that and more. The reality is however that succeeding at an Old Firm side is more difficult than anywhere else in Scotland and we can only hope that this wonâ€™t be a fleeting glimpse of St. Mirren Park in the sun.