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Lewis McGarvey and Paddy Burns Go Head-To-Head

Northern Ireland duo Lewis McGarvey and Paddy Burns went head-to-head as Duke Blue Devils faced Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the ACC.

McGarvey and Burns have grown up together, and played for the Northern Ireland Schools International team before heading out to the US last fall.

The defensive pair went up against each other for the first time in the Atlantic Coast Conference, with the Fighting Irish scoring a pair of first-half goals to secure victory.

McGarvey was with Glentoran FC since the age of 11 and broke into the senior team during the 2018-19 season. The centre-back has started in defence for the Blue Devils in all 13 of his appearances this season.

Burns captained the Northern Ireland Under-18 side, and was part of the team that won the Centenary Shield. The Notre Dame defender also has a goal against Germany at youth level to his name.

“The reason why these kids are going to these top schools is because of their high academic achievement, and the level of play that they’re at,” SMUSA director Stephen Murray spoke about the pair going against each other.

“You don’t go to these schools without that.

“Again, the big emphasis is on the academic side of things, and then the football alongside that – with recognition at the international level for both Lewis (McGarvey) and Paddy (Burns).

“Both players were with teams here, and are currently in their freshman year in one of the top conferences in Division One soccer.

“These are the calibre of players that can be placed at these universities and that’s what I’m looking for going forward, to help players of all levels, but also placing top players at top schools.”

McGarvey and Burns are currently in their freshman year with two teams in an elite conference. It’s a season like no other due to the ongoing pandemic, a fixture between Duke and Notre Dame would usually attract thousands of fans.

The opportunity that the scholarship and US college pathway provides is unprecedented and unmatched in Europe.

Playing in a full-time playing environment, and combining that with studying for a lucrative degree over the four years is something that is very unique.

Murray added: “When kids are trying to step up into the first team at clubs here, there are limited opportunities. It’s difficult when they’re 17,18 and 19. They can easily fall through the cracks and miss out on opportunities like going to America.

“By going to the US, it’s important to emphasise that you’re getting that quality of education, and then as a player, you’re in a full-time environment day to day and also focussing on strength and conditioning.

“Physically, you’re going to be a much stronger player after those four years.

“You will come back with a high-end education, with a degree, then you can pursue the professional ranks over here in Ireland or potentially stay in the US, where there are different pro leagues.

“There are also different opportunities in playing, coaching, and so many other areas in the sports industry in the US.”


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