RYAN MARKEY - Nottm' Forest THE former De La Salle College student from Newtownbalreagan continues to make positive progress at Nottingham Forest.
Markey moved to the City Ground at the beginning of the 2009-2010 season and despite missing the first months of the campaign through illness and injury he finished on a high, scoring nine goals in the second-half of the season.
Ryan is currently six months into a two-year scholarship deal with the former two time European champions and has hit four goals with the Under-17 side, enjoying an injury free season to date.
In December he was rewarded with a call up to the side's Reserve team squad for their trip to Rotherham and the 17-year old is aiming to become an established face in the club's Under-18 side before the end of the season.
"It has been a very positive season for me", he said. "Eoin Jess is our manager with the Under-17s and I have learnt so much from him. I'm a bit frustrated that I haven't played more with the Under-18 team but I have time on my side".
The future certainly looks bright for Forest. Their Under-18 side claimed the scalp of Manchester City in the FAI Youth Cup last week while Billy Davies' first team squad sit just two points outside the play-off positions.
I have been training with the first team and it has definitely improved me as a player", said Ryan. "The bad weather meant I just missed out on training with Aaron Ramsey when he was on loan here from Arsenal. It shows just how well thought off the club are when we can get the likes of him on loan".
Ryan also has his eyes set on breaking into John Morling's Irish Under-17 squad in 2011.
"I was in Sean McCaffrey's Under-15 squad a few years back and I'd love to get back into the Irish set-up. Hopefully I can break into the Forest Under-18 squad and then it will make my chances a lot easier."
Off the field, Ryan is also making huge strides. He has taken to life in Nottingham and as part of his Forest deal he studies Sports Science and is hoping to finish with 3 A levels at the end of his scholarship.
"It's important to have something to fall back on and I really enjoy the course", he said. "I settled into it as soon as I arrived just over a year ago and it feels like home here".
COLIN LARKIN - Hartlepool United
THE 2010-2011 season has been a frustrating one for Colin Larkin.
The former Muirhevnamor striker is in his second year with League One outfit Hartlepool United but he has endured a difficult time, starting just 10 games and making six substitute appearances. More worryingly, he has completed 90 minutes on just one occasion.
Larkin arrived at Victoria Park in 2009 after a deal to Morecambe fell through at the last minute. His decision to join Hartlepool was made easier by the presence of Chris Turner, who was at Wolves when Larkin arrived as a 15-year-old. Turner resigned in August after seeing Hartlepool secure their place in League One on the final day of the 2009-10 campaign with Mick Wadsworth coming in as manager.
During the summer, Larkin held discussions with Dundalk manager Ian Foster about returning to his home-town club but with the security of a further year on his contract, the striker opted to stay in the north east of England.
He made his first appearance of this season against Wigan in the Carling Cup in August before making a number of showings from the bench in August and September.
Hamstring and back injuries curtailed his involvement until December when he returned from a four week lay-off to play against Vauxhall Motors in the FA Cup.
However the 29-year-old, who is without a goal since September 2009, has been left kicking his heels since, making just three substitute appearances up to Saturday's clash with bottom of the table Dagenham and Redbridge.
CONOR MCCORMACK - Triestina
ANOTHER local player in need of regular first team football is Greenore native and former Bellurgan United starlet Conor McCormack.
McCormack has endured a frustrating time in Italy following his move to Serie B club Triestina from Manchester United in the summer of 2008; failing to make a single first-team start for the club.
Back in September, he spoke to The Dundalk Democrat about his hopes of securing a loan move away from the Stadio Nereo Rocco this season but twice this season, with a move lined up to an Italian Serie C, Bellaria Calcio, Triestina pulled the plug at the last minute.
The former Irish Under-17 Player of the Year's case has not been helped by the constant turnover of managers at the club and speaking over the Christmas period, Conor confirmed that things had not improved.
"It's a difficult time for the club as we are not doing so well. We are third from bottom of Serie B. We have changed our manager again - the sixth in my two years here - and the fans have turned on the directors and president. The president has said he would like to sell the club also, so it will be interesting to see what happens in the near future.
I really need to move on to find a place where I can play week in week out. At the minute I am not sure what I will do yet. I will chat to my agent and see what he says and what my options are. At the minute the aim is to find first team football somewhere. I wouldn't mind coming back to the UK again but it will be difficult as I am contracted to Triestina until July."
ALAN O'HARE - Glapwell FC
FORMER Rangers and Dundalk Schoolboys League player Alan O'Hare is currently playing his trade with Glapwell FC in the Evo Stick Division One South League - the eight tier of English football.
The 28-year-old was released by York City in July 2009 following the club's failure to reach the Football League. During his time with York, he spent two loan spells at Gainsborough Trinity.
The defender started his career in the Dundalk Schoolboys League before moving to Bolton Wanderers in 1999. After leaving the Reebok Stadium in 2002 he signed permanently for Chesterfield where he spent six years before switching to Mansfield. and subsequently York City. Ironically, Glapwell is located between Chesterfield and Mansfield
O'Hare has made 19 appearances for Glapwell, who currently sit in sixth place.