Author Archives: Andrew McCullough

Friday fixture (Premier) – SuperCupNI final

The Premier team will play B Italia in the final of the SuperCupNI on Friday evening at Ballymena Showgrounds (kick-off 7.00pm).

The match will be streamed live from the Showgrounds at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/irish

We’d love you to come along and support us, but there are some important changes to this year’s final. PLEASE READ ALL OF THE FOLLOWING VERY CAREFULLY.

As a new pitch is being laid in the main stadium, a temporary arena at the rear of the Showgrounds complex is being used to facilitate SuperCupNI fixtures this year.

Important information re: access to new arena

The SuperCupNI matches at the Showgrounds are 100% ticketed, and spectators are advised to get there early to purchase tickets on site. Admission will be £10 and £5.

Tickets must be purchased for respective arena seated and standing areas from Slemish Drive turnstiles or the ticket booths in the Showground’s rear car park.

Holders of multi-match tickets still need a seated/standing numbered ticket from the Showgrounds ticket booth beforehand. This will not come at any additional cost.

Entrance to the Showgrounds by car or on foot is via Warden Street and the Slemish Drive turnstiles (parking in Slemish Drive car park), or via the Ecos roundabout to the Showground’s rear car park.

For Finals night on Friday 27th July to be sure of getting in to see the second match at 7pm attendees will need to arrive for the first game at 5pm. As these 2 matches are back to back they are being treating as one event.

There will be plenty of stewards on hand at the site to assist you should you have any queries on arrival. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

For any queries regarding Showgrounds entrance arrangements, please email: showgrounds.reception@midandeastantrim.gov.uk or telephone: 028 2563 3290

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Premiers 2-0 Club America

Jake Corbett celebrates at the final whistle

For the first time a County Down side will contest the final of the SuperCupNI after John Bailie’s premier team defeated Club America in Thursday night’s semi-final.

The 2-0 win at Riada Stadium sets up a meeting with B Italia at Ballymena Showgrounds on Friday, where Down will look to follow County Antrim’s success of 2017, when they won the junior competition.

In a surprisingly comfortable first half, Down contained Club America to their own half for long periods and first threatened on four minutes when keeper Giovanni had to push a header from Jack Conlon over the crossbar.

Adam Carroll briefly posed a threat, when he beat the America offside trap to direct a header goal-wards, but again the goalkeeper was good for the save.

The opening goal came from the penalty spot, following a needless foul on Ethan Wynne right at the edge of the area. The Bangor man picked himself up to clip the ball in off the post and give his side the advantage at half time.

The expected Club America fightback duly commenced in the second half. Juarez Ramon fired a shot from close to 40 yards not far wide of goal on 43 minutes and then missed a golden chance to level two minutes after when he burst through a gap in the Down defence but again put wide of the goal.

Down’s Adam Carroll got sight the Club America goal on ’55 but his first time effort was off target, while at the other end keeper Dylan Stewart was quickly out to the edge of his area to block the advances of Murillo Paul.

Having survived the onslaught, Down doubled their advantage on 61 minutes. Ruari O’Hare, who had been inspirational at the back, got the goal, putting his head to Mal Smith’s out-swinging free kick to dash the hopes of the Mexicans and seal his team’s spot in the Friday night showpiece.

DOWN: Stewart, Smith, O’Hare, Conlon, Glover, Wynne (Teggart 68), Weatherup, Corbett, Gemmell (McVeigh 70), Dinu (Cushnie 68), Carroll (Ferris 58)

Skipper Jake Corbett prepares for kick-off against Club America

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Friday fixture news (Junior team)

The Junior team will play for 3rd place in the Vase competition on Friday when they meet Charlton Athletic at Parker Avenue, Portrush at 11.00am.

Charlton were beaten 4-0 by Plymouth Argyle in Thursday’s semi-final and suffered a 3-1 loss to Down when the teams met on Monday.

Admission to the match is free, so come along and cheer on our boys in their last outing.

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Juniors 1-2 Chivas Guadalajara

Joshua Archer prepares for the pre match coin toss

There was heartbreak for the Down Juniors in the semi-final of the Vase as Chivas Guadalajara scored deep in injury time to record a 2-1 comeback win.

As the game got underway it was Mexicans Chivas threatened first, when on seven minutes, Bernal got to bye-line and cut the ball back to Sebastian Perez but despite time on his side he couldn’t direct his shot.

A couple of minutes later and an attack from Down saw Owen Madine play in Reece Doyle and the forward opened his body well only to see his shot hit the base of the far post.

Down would take the lead in the last minute of the half. Good work from Bailey Locke played in Matty Lusty and from the left side of the area he skipped inside a defender to place the ball neatly inside the far post.

Gary McAlister’s county team had a great chance to double their lead on 50 minutes when Lusty went clear through the middle. He unselfishly picked out Ben Hollinger but the substitute couldn’t take the shot on first time and the eventual effort hit the side netting.

Six minutes later and Chivas were level when Fernando Virgen got on the end of a ball cut back from the bye-line to tap home from a yard or so in front of goal.

Things got worse for Down when three minutes into stoppage time Chivas grabbed their winner. No-one moved to close down Andrew Puertos and he was able to stretch his legs into the Down area and place a low shot by Ryan Dalzell.

Later still and Down had a glorious chance to send the game to penalties when a free kick into the area from Archer found its way to Oran Magee but he had to watch on as the keeper clawed the ball back just as it was about to cross the goal line.

DOWN: Dalzell, Hopes, Rolleston, Archer, Locke (McDarby 41), Madine, Doyle (Hollinger 49), Lusty (Boyd 53), Magee, Heron, Davidson

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Premiers 3-0 Desportes Iquique

Captain Jake Corbett lines up against Iquique

The Down Premier team booked their place in the semi-finals of the SuperCupNI with a convincing win over Desportes Iquique in Broughshane.

With four points from their first two games, Down knew that a win on Wednesday would likely carry them to the last four of the competition and they got straight to work against Iquique by netting their first goal in the 2nd minutes. It was captain Jake Corbett who found the net, striking the ball home from well outside the box.

Just a minute later and the county’s lead was doubled. Eoin Teggart’s deep cross into the area found Ross Weatherup at the back post and he powered a header past keeper Capeda.

The stunned Iquique side set about getting some foothold on the match but found efforts thwarted by great defending from Glover and O’Hare.

On 25 minutes Adam Carroll put the ball into the path of Corbett but he dragged his shot wide, and then just before the break a cross from Teggart found Ruari O’Hare, but his downward header was pushed away by Capeda.

The second half saw Down extend their control of the game, while each side gave match time to six replacements.

On 51 minutes an effort from Carroll ran wide of the target before the Iquique keeper prevented a further Down score by pushing away a shot from sub Callum Ferris.

The third and final Down goal arrived with 62 minutes gone and it was another set piece that undid Iquique as Mal Smith’s corner found the head of Corbett and he notched his second goal of the day.

Down go onto Thursday’s semi-final, where they will face Club America at Riada Stadium at 7pm.

DOWN: Carry, Smith, Glover (Curran 66), O’Hare, Conlon, Gemmell (McVeigh 66), Cushnie (Wynne 48), Corbett, Carroll (Ferris 60), Weatherup (Rooney 63), Teggart (Dinu 48)

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Thursday semi-final fixtures

The Premier team will play Club América in the semi-finals of the Super Cup NI on Thursday evening. The match will take place at Riada Stadium at 7pm.

The Junior team will face Chivas de Guadalajara in the semi-final of the Vase competition. That match will be at Parker Avenue, Portrush at midday. #DownDream18

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Juniors 0-1 Global Premier Soccer


Down juniors passed up the opportunity to reach the semi-final of the SuperCupNI as they fell to a first defeat of the week to Global Premier Soccer.
Down had promised much during the first half and inside the first couple of minutes Jay Boyd picked out Lewis Davidson with a cross from the left but his header was just wide of the far post.
On 19 minutes a deep cross from GPS’s Gagliardi posed a threat but keeper McKenzie Pauley got a vital hand to the ball to take it away from the waiting Drew Kilcoyne.
With four minutes of the half to run Down made their best opening of the game when Hollinger linked up with Heron to supply Boyd but he dragged his shot the wrong side of the far upright.
The goal that would settle the game arrived on 42 minutes. A loose ball in the Down area wasn’t dealt with and when it broke to Jonathan Klein he passed his shot past the unmoved Pauley.
Two minutes later and GPS came within inches of a second when Gagliardy got his head to a deep cross from the left but directed his effort the wrong side of the post.
From there on Down’s share of the play from the first half all but evaporated as they got drawn into needless fouls by the Americans who were able to assert themselves on the match until the clock ran out.
DOWN: Pauley, Hopes, Rolleston (MacDonald 51), Locke, Clarke (Lusty 48), Magee, Hollinger, McDarby (Archer 37), Heron, Davidson, Boyd (Doyle 41)
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Premiers 3-2 Ichifuna

Down Premiers picked up their first win of the week, over Japanese visitors Ichifuna, from what had been an unthinkable position at half time.
The county had trailed 2-0 at the break, following a disastrous start to the game when a poor kick out from keeper Dylan Stewart on four minutes was sent straight back over his head by Ichifuna’s Kasumi Iwata from about 40 yards.
There was a great chance for the Down to level on 11 minutes when a flick on from O’Hare found Callum McVeigh in behind the defence but he dallied on the ball allowing a defender to get back and make the block.
Down were seeing their share of the ball but it was Ichifuna’s composure on it that made it look like they’d be the side to get the next goal.
That they did, albeit from another error as Koya Kawano was left in space as the ball came from the left and he was able to direct a header around Stewart, who had strayed too far off his line.
Down breathed a sigh of relief on 44 minutes when a close range shot from Kawano hit the upright and rolled along the line into the welcoming arms of Stewart.
There was drama then at the other end as Mal Smith’s cross from the left flank took a deflection off a defender and struck the Ichifuna crossbar.
On ’47 Down pulled a goal back when a low cross from Dinu squeezed past a defender to the waiting Adam Carroll, who had only to tap into the empty net.
On 59 minutes Down pulled the game level from a free kick some 30 yards out, sent brilliantly over the wall and just inside the keeper’s right hand post by Jake Corbett.
The Ichifuna composure finally crumbled with five minutes to go as Down turned the game around by scrambing a third. Substitute Carroll claimed the strike amid chaos in the box, and fury from the Japanese side, who felt their keeper had been fouled.
DOWN: Stewart, Smith, Conlon, Gemmell (Carroll 41), O’Hare, Corbett, Cushnie (Ferris 41, Dinu (Teggart 56), Curran (Glover 41), McVeigh (Weatherup 41), Wynne (Rooney 62)

Captain Dylan Stewart ready for the Ichifuna

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Juniors 0-0 Cherry Orchard

Captain Joshua Archer prepares for kick-off against Cherry Orchard

DOWN JUNIORS 0-0 CHERRY ORCHARD

It ended scoreless in Portrush for Down Juniors and Cherry Orchard as both sides endured a frustrating second day in the SuperCupNI.

Following opening day wins against Charlton and GPS respectively, the teams were on the hunt for another three points that would secure qualification but as the sun shone on Parker Avenue, no goals could be mustered.

Down were first to threaten on three minutes when a deep cross in from James Clarke on the left found Jamie McDarby but his header was just wide.

It took until the 19th minute for Cherry Orchard to have a first sight of goal, with Cain Gallagher turning in the area to place a low shot narrowly wide.

With plenty of the possession Down looked to turn that to their advantage and thought they had opening the scoring on 24 minutes but Matty Lusty’s goal was flagged for offside.

Late in the half the county side made claims for a penalty when Josh Archer went down in the box but the end result saw the Down captain go into the book instead.

In a second half punctured by substitutions, there were few clear cut chances for either side. Orchard enjoyed good spells of possession but seemed to lack the desire to push through the Down lines.

In the face of that, Down themselves  were struggling to make a break though and when they did their attackers were on seldom on cue. Substitute Lewis Davidson lashed one over the top; Reece Doyle cut a shot across the face of goal and in the final minutes James Clarke screwed an effort from distance wide of the left hand post.

So no goals at Parker Avenue, but each side still undefeated and a point closer to qualification.

DOWN: Pauley, Hopes, Rolleston, McKibbin, Archer (Locke 42), MacDonald (Davidson 42), Madine (Heron 37), Doyle, Lusty (Hollinger 37), Clarke, McDarby (Boyd 52)

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