UTD Unscripted with Paul McShane band of brothers


Our confidence kept on rising and propelling us through the rounds until we met Middlesbrough in the two-legged final. We won 2-0 up there, drew 1-1 at Old Trafford and it felt amazing to get our hands on the trophy afterwards. The final’s on television, so I had people back in Ireland watching me, in my first year over in England. That whole experience: fresh-faced, ginger-haired, freckly kid, fresh off the boat from Ireland, comes over and wins the Youth Cup live on Sky Sports… it was a special year for me.

In fact, looking back, my first year in England was, professionally at least, probably one of my best years in England! The sense of achievement was incredible. I remember going back home after the season with my mum and dad and it felt like a job well done.
Of that class of 2003, I’ve always stayed in touch with Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. We joined at the same time so we had a lot in common. We’d always do extra-training together too. After school on school days we’d go into the training ground and play one-v-one. I swear we used to kick the s*** out of each other. We were best friends but sort of hated each other at the same time because we tried to drive each other on.

In the gym, we’d kick the ball off the wall, he’d try to control it and I’d be up the back of him, booting him. We were just trying to get better and better every day. We struck up a special friendship and we still chat now.
The friendships that really formed, though, came years after I’d left United and moved to Hull City. There was a phase where a lot of lads from United were coming on loan to Hull when they were in the Championship, and it became a United outpost. There was James Chester, Joe Dudgeon, Robbie Brady, Cameron Stewart and Corry Evans – I knew Corry already through Jonny, who was a similar age to me.

James was a similar age to me, I think I played an under-17 game with him. I knew Robbie’s family already, I’d played against his brother Darren back home, so there were little connections already, but what brought us close together was the United thing. We just had this same mentality. It’s like an institution, like we were brought up with the same principles and standards and we really got on really well.


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