Cup Success At The Belfast Youth Cup
Ballymena United Youth Academy were well-represented across 6 age groups at the Belfast Youth Cup last weekend.
Now in its second year, the Belfast Youth Cup is a prestigious tournament that brings together teams from across the UK and Ireland for 4 days of football. The Wee Sky Blues were joined by clubs such as Shamrock Rovers and Galway United, as well as those a bit closer to home.
The 2008s began their campaign against Dungannon Youth in a tight affair. In an intense match, Joel Barr was outstanding and really tested the Dungannon defence. This was followed by a 3-2 win over Rosario; the boys initially fell behind before showing their fighting spirit to come out on top, aided by some brilliant finishes from Josh McGrandles.
The final match of the group stage came against the eventual cup winners Linfield, with Johnny Greer getting himself on the scoresheet.
Having progressed to the semi-final, the 2008s found themselves in what turned out to be a rather cagey affair against Greenisland. The lads responded well after going 2-0 down and put in a superb effort throughout the match. A great showing from all involved, and special mention should go to Aidan Graham for a starring tournament debut.
Off the pitch, the squad got to meet the Cup mascot and tried a bit of Teq Ball!
Photo Credit: AM Photography NI
The 2009s started off strongly at the Belfast Youth Cup, with victories over Dungannon Youth, Carryduff Colts and Rosario.
Qualifying for the semi-finals, they were drawn against Shamrock Rovers. In a stunning display, the boys ran out 4-0 winners to secure a place in the final against Linfield. It was the Belfast side who managed to win on the day, but the 2009s came away with their heads high after a fantastic run.
The 2010s had a great experience over the two days. The group stage saw wins against Cookstown and Coleraine, with the boys going on to finish a superb second.
However, the highlight of the weekend was the Ballinamallard game; although the boys were disappointed to only draw the match their real character shone through coming back from 3-0 down.
The 2 losses against quality Dublin opposition were hard on the boys but they never stopped trying in either game, with their determination throughout the tournament rewarded with a 2-1 win over Greenisland in their last match.
Goal scorers over the two days were Corey Ramsey (4), Jude Crawford (3), Jamie Wilson (3), Oisin Mooney(2), Carter Adams (1) and Tom McDonald (1).
Finishing 7th overall in a tournament packed with excellent teams is something they should all be really proud of and shows the quality the boys have. Losing only 2 games out of 6 over the course of the tournament was a brilliant effort, so well done!
The 2011s were drawn into a tough group alongside some of the top teams in NI, including Loughall, Ballinamallard, Glentoran and Crusaders. Finishing in 5th place, the lads held their own in every game and played some fantastic football.
By qualifying for the cup, the team returned to play Trim Celtic and came out on top as 2-0 winners, setting up the final against Coleraine. An excellent display saw the Wee Sky Blues emerge as 3-1 winners to bring the trophy home. A big congratulations to all the boys who never stopped battling for one another against quality opposition.
Also, special mention to Daithi Holleran who received the honour of being named player of the cup. Well played Daithi!
The 2012s started off with a win before 3 tough games against Shamrock Rovers, Ballymoney United and the eventual overall winners Crusaders. Qualification secured for the cup, they were drawn against Maiden City in what proved to be a high-scoring, entertaining semi-final.
Their last match came in the third-place play-off against Hillsborough Boys, where the lads managed to finish on a high with a brilliant 4-2 victory.
Our youngest entrants in the Belfast Youth Cup, the talented 2013s took part in the Shield competition.
Coming up against Portrush in the semi-final, the boys won 4-1, with a hat-trick from Archie Muir and a 'worldie' from Cole Logan helping them on their way. This set up the final against Shankill, with an inspired man-of-the-match display from Curtis McKeown in midfield catching the eye in a 2-1 victory. A goal from Logan Hunter and another from Archie proved the difference to bring the Shield back to the Showgrounds!
This year’s Belfast Youth Cup was an undoubted success for Ballymena United Youth Academy. The strength of the opposition was clear throughout, but the boys more than held their own and each and every one of them can be very proud of their performances.
The Youth Academy would like to take this opportunity to thank all the players, coaches and parents for making it possible through their ongoing support and the tournament organisers for another well organised, high quality tournament.
Come on the Wee Sky Blues!
Written by; Joshua McAdorey