Victorious Hibs Under-19s return home

HIBS' Under-19 squad were back in Edinburgh today having returned unbeaten from a winter break in Portugal where they played three games in eight days.

The youngsters travelled to the Algarve under the European Community-funded Leonardo da Vinci Coaching Initiative, a lifelong learning programme which is much sought after throughout Europe.

Although the primary objective of the two-week trip was to provide the 16 kids, nine of whom were from Hibs' Under-17 squad, with warm weather training, they also played a series of matches, beating local side Portomonese 3-1 in Vilamoura.

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The Easter Road youngsters then came from 2-0 down to beat Queen's Park, like themselves one of eight Scottish clubs to have taken advantage of the Da Vinci project, 5-2 before wrapping up their visit with a 1-1 draw with IC Almancil, another local club.

Hibs academy manager Bill Hendry said today: "We were really pleased with the trip, not just the results but the opportunity to look at nine lads who are seeking contracts, to see them in a different environment, their attitude and lifestyle.

"It was also pleasing that we had a young squad, nine from the Under-17s including 15-year-old Danny Hanlon."

While the youngsters flew to an area more closely associated with sunshine holidays by the Scottish public, the weather wasn't quite what they expected.

Hendry said: "The first week the Algarve had unusually heavy rain, so-much-so we had to be accommodated on a field turf pitch.

"The second week was much better but given the weather we had left behind in Scotland the boys managed to get more done than if they'd stayed here."