IT seems that lightning has struck twice in recent weeks as another young football star has found his way to the professional level of English football.

16-year-old Dylan Stitt made the journey across the pond to Luton last week where he is embarking on his first season as part of the club's academy.

Dylan has followed in the footsteps of his former teammates Conor McVeigh and Cormac Austin by taking the leap across the water, to sign a three-year-deal with the newly promoted English Premier League side.

The young star found his love for sport at a young age playing GAA with St Galls GAC and lining out for St Oliver Plunkett from when he was a toddler. Dylan’s father Ciaran spoke to the Andersonstown News about how proud he is of his son and believes he earned his opportunity.

“He always loved football, I started him at St Oliver Plunkett when he was only five-years-old and even from a young age you could tell he had good potential. He also played a lot of Gaelic with St Galls at the same time, and I feel that both sports complemented each other in teaching him several things like discipline, sportsmanship and how to play in a team game.”

The young star has worked his way through the footballing ranks, but also had a promising juvenile career in the Gaelic games as a young player with St Galls GAC and loved every second of his time in blue – which he did with pride until his move to England.

The bright midfielder showed early signs of his class when at aged 11, Irish Premiership side Linfield came knocking on the door.

“When he was 11, he was playing really well for Plunkett and then Linfield approached us and spoke about potentially signing him to the JD Academy for elite performers. It was a really good experience for him because he learned how to live the life of a footballer.

“It’s sort of a good pre-cursor so that kids can get used to the change of living away from home, doing your own washing, teaching them how to cook – it’s a great experience for him and he trained everyday there so it will be second nature to him.”

Ciaran mentioned that one thing he certainly will miss is not watching his son’s success on a weekly basis but will make sure he and his partner Lisa are over as often as possible to watch their son’s footballing adventure.

“It is going to be a big difference for me. I love watching his games every week and chatting afterwards with him, but he’s taking a big step up and if I can get over now and again to see him that will do me.”

Dylan’s father believes his decision to pick the London-based club was a no-brainer when he went for trials in January.

“We took him over at the beginning of January and he fitted in so well with the rest of the players. There is a real difference in quality which helps him up his game, but I think the challenge is what he loved about it and less than a week later they offered him the contract for three-years which was fantastic.

“Then as a family we travelled over to meet with his host family and they were really lovely, which was one of the selling points for him I think personally. He’s also getting A-Level equivalents in Sports Nutrition alongside football which is really good also.”
Father Ciaran works in the professional game as a coach with the Northern Ireland Ladies but believes that there are no secrets in store for his son as football is as transparent as can be.

NEW HOME: Kenilworth Road in Luton

NEW HOME: Kenilworth Road in Luton

“I work in the game and trust me there really isn’t any secrets. You just have to put your head down, work hard and listen to what your coaches and the people around you have to say. You have to be open for improvement and I think that Dylan knows that and is ready for the challenge.”

Dylan kicked off his pre-season with Luton last week, but regardless of the hard-hitting beep test and strenuous pre-season the young superstar seems to have relished in the academy so far.

Ciaran wanted to thank all the clubs and coaches that has helped Dylan achieve everything he has so far.

“We want to thank all the support he received the whole way throughout his career so far, from St Oliver Plunkett, Linfield and the academy where he has been the past few years, we couldn’t thank them enough. Of course, a special mention has to go to St Galls for all the support they gave my son throughout his time there.”