Gary McAlister appointed as Junior manager

New Junior team manager Gary McAlister

The County Down SuperCupNI committee are delighted announce the appointment of Gary McAlister as Junior team manager for 2018.

Currently engaged as Head Coach of the Glentoran U20s, Gary moves into the Down Junior team manager’s role following three years on the coaching staff of our Premier team.

Gary brings a wealth of coaching experience to the role, despite his mere 25 years. While still in his late teens, Gary’s managerial career began at Crusaders, looking after one of their National League sides. After five years in the Seaview set-up, Gary moved across town to join Glentoran in 2016, first with the under 17s and latterly coaching the under 20s in the NIFL Development League.

On his appointment as the new Junior team manager, Gary remarked that the role had come at the right time for him: “I have enjoyed a great three years being involved with the county in a coaching capacity with the Premier side. Through this I have developed a feel of how the tournament runs and the level of what is expected from the players. Working alongside John [Bailie] and Pete [Houston] has definitely developed me as a coach and gave me the tools to take this role on. I feel the time is right to put all that experience to practice and feel massively privileged to be offered this role.

“Throughout the years I have gained a vast experience of youth football in Northern Ireland, working across different age groups at different levels. Along with my vastly experienced coaching team, we are looking forward to working with and developing our next generation of county players. Working within the premiers, I’ve seen many of the players come through from junior level, so I’m keen to instill a pride into our players that they feel honoured to represent their county and hope to push on and do so for the next two or three campaigns. “

Joining Gary in the Junior team camp will be his assistant manager John Savage, whom he has worked with both at Crusaders and Glentoran, along with coach Michael McClelland and goalkeeper coach Lewis Massey, who heads up the goalkeeper coaching at Glentoran Academy. Derriaghy physio Nigel Fell completes the Junior backroom team.

With trial details for this year’s teams due to be announced soon, Gary was keen to stress that there has never been a better opportunity to try out for County Down. “We want the process to be as open and inclusive as possible,” he stated. “With this in mind, we are moving back to running regional trials for our players, all controlled by regional trial coordinators. The process will include more trials and more opportunities for the individuals to show their capabilities, as well as our coaching team getting more opinions from more people in order to paint a better picture of our players. On top of this, myself and my staff have been going out to watch games so it’s a well-rounded process!”

This year’s SuperCupNI takes place between 22nd-27th July, meaning that in just a few short months another tournament will have passed. Gary will be hoping to add to his expanding bank of memories from his weeks spent on the north coast.

He says, “For the past three years I have had the privilege of working within the County set up, supporting John Bailie in his backroom team. Through this I have had the opportunity to work with some great players and look back fondly at some of the great moments we have had in previous tournaments, a particular highlight being the 2016 campaign where we finished 4th in the overall tournament with some great performances and results throughout the week.

“For me, my main aim as a coach is to educate, motivate and inspire young players to become the best they can be. We aim to create technically proficient footballers who can make effective and efficient decisions in game related situations with the aim of creating Game Intelligent Players. Throughout the process I hope to achieve this as well as bring success to County Down.”

The County Down Committee would like to thank our previous manager David Bryson and his staff for all their efforts and professionalism over their years in post.

2018 tournament

County Down will continue their proud tradition of entering two teams in the world’s most prestigious youth football tournament, the SuperCupNI at the end of July. This year’s tournament takes place between Sunday 22nd – Friday 27th July 2018.

Teams will represent County Down in the following age groups:

Junior (2003) and Premier (2001)

Please note that we will not be entering a team in the new Minor (2005) competition.

Qualification for our team is by way of trials, which we will be organising soon. Please keep a check on our website, facebook and twitter sites.


Six play in Steel & Sons final

Commiserations to our 2017 players Dean Truesdale, Ruari O’Hare, Adam Carroll, Scott Pengelly, Ross Weatherup and Cai Gemmell who were in the Linfield Swifts squad who lost 1-0 to Newington in this morning’s Steel & Sons Cup final. [Pic: Presseye]

Toals sponsored Steel and Sons cup final between Linfield Swifts and Newington YC at Seaview Belfast.
Linfield Swifts pictured before today’s game
Mandatory Credit /Stephen Hamilton

Recognition of our staff

While our tournament is ultimately about the players, nothing could be achieved without the support of those in the background, the staff who give their time not just during tournament week but in the months leading up to it.

We win as a team and we lose as a team. Thanks to everyone for their commitment, drive and support.


Awards presentations

The curtain came down on our 2017 SuperCupNI tournament with the awards presentations at The Lodge Hotel on Friday afternoon.

In the presence of county staff and parents, we celebrated our boys’ achievements, not only during the tournament week, but for the duration of the trials and preparation period.

Chairman Paul O’Kane presided over the presentations and thanked all those present for their hard work and dedication over the past seven weeks. Each player and staff member received a medal, while the following awards were made:


Manager’s Player of the Tournament – Jack Conlon
Players’ Player of the Tournament – Jack Conlon
Top Goal scorer – Tom Mathieson
McCloskey Cup – Matthew Lee


Manager’s Player of the Tournament – Dylan Boyle
Players’ Player of the Tournament – Jacob Collins
Top Goal scorer – Aidan Steele
Nevin Spence Cup – Naseem Ouldhamlat

Premier Team 2 County Londonderry 1

The Premier side finished their week as Bowl runners-up after coming from behind to beat Londonderry at Castlerock.

The game’s earliest chance came on 10 minutes and almost resulted in an own goal in Down’s favour. A left sided cross from Jack Conlon was missed by Ross Weatherup only for the defender to nearly turn it into his own net.

A few moments later and Ruari O’Hare flicked on a throw in for Adam Carroll but he blazed his shot over the crossbar.

Londonderry opened the scoring on 19 minutes when Callum Browne found himself in space and opened his body up to bend the ball over the top of the goalkeeper and into the top corner.

Down had the perfect chance to level matters on 39 minutes when Callum Ferris was bundled over in the box. The striker took the kick himself but presented an easy save for keeper Purcell.

A triple substitution by Down added fresh legs to the game and on 51 minutes one of the replacements, Dean Truesdale forced the keeper into a decent stop from a free kick. Moments later and a shot from Conlon struck the crossbar.

On 63 minutes Down were finally level. Truesdale’s free kick in from the right was headed across the box by O’Hare and captain-for-the-day James McCarthy stole in to power home a header.

Just as Down looked destined for their fourth draw of the week, an unexpected winner arrived on 69 minutes. Yet another Truesdale free kick did the damage as his shot came back off the bar and there was Ferris to knock it back goal wards with the keeper unable to keep the ball out.

The four points gained from the past two days were confirmed as enough for the team to take 2nd place in the six team Bowl table and so the side received runners-up medals late on Friday.

TEAM: 1 Scott Pengelly (19 Matty Anderson, HT), 2 Mal Smith (3 Jamie Glover, 61), 5 James McCarthy (capt.), 7 Tom Mathieson (6 Jack Henderson, 47), 8 Matthew Lee, 9 Callum Ferris, 10 Adam Carroll (11 Dean Truesdale, 47), 11 Ruari O’Hare, 14 Dan Smith, 16 Ross Weatherup (15 Cai Gemmell, 47), 18 Jack Conlon

Bowl Final: Junior Team 0 Middlesbrough 4

Middlesbrough claimed the SuperCupNI Bowl with a convincing win against County Down juniors.
On a breezy day in Broughshane Middlebrough took an early lead from the spot.
Keeper Ryan Dalzell had made a block from Joseph Ridley and as play continued Cowan went in late on the striker to concede a penalty. Ridley moved forward to calmly out his side ahead with ten minutes gone.
Boro were just about shading the possession but were the more penetrative of the two teams.
On the stroke of half time the English team doubled their lead through McKenzie Dicicco, who picked up a through ball on the right of goal and cut a shot across Dalzell.
On 43 minutes a rare effort from Down saw Ben McMorris hit a shot from 25 yards i to the keeper’s arms.
Less than a minute later Middlesbrough stretched their lead to three. Ridley was sent clear through the middle and as the keeper advanced he chipped the ball in from the 18 yard line.
A minute from the end Boro completed the scoring with a fourth goal from Harry Healy who shot across Dalzell from inside the box.
A valiant effort from the side the end the week but ultimately a game too far for the Down juniors.
TEAM: 19 Ryan Dalzell, 2 Dylan Boyle (capt.), 3 Cian Gantley (11 Eoin Teggart, HT), 4 Callum McVeigh, 5 Jacob Collins (15 John McGivern, HT) , 6 Kris Cowan, 8 Aiden Steele, 9 Aaron Brown (18 Ben Hollinger 40), 12 Ben McMorris (7 Bailey Locke, 43), 16 Naseem Ouldhamlat, 17 George Tipton (10 Ross Hunter, 38). Sub not used: Marc Matthews.