Category Archives: Reports

SuperCupNI Final: Premiers 0-2 B Italia

The 2018 Premier squad with their runners up medals

There was no fairytale ending for the Down Premier team’s first ever appearance in the SuperCupNI final, as John Bailie’s boys succumbed to a very strong B Italia side.

The Down side were unable to emulate what the Antrim Juniors had done just hours before on finals night at Ballymena Showgrounds and so leave the north coast with no trophy but a lot of memories and a lot of new admirers.

A tense start to the game soon gave way to a period of sustained pressure from B Italia. On 11 minutes Dylan Stewart had to be quick off his line to block the advances of Iannone Carmine.

A minute later and Stewart was called on to make an even better stop when Carmine slammed in a shot from close range.

The Down lines were then breached fully on 17 minutes when Kevin Salvatore nipped through a gap in the defence to poke the ball into the top corner.

Down had been getting little respite but with 32 minutes gone they finally carved an opening at the other end. Sub Ben Cushnie raced into the area and as the goalkeeper committed, the chance was on but a heavy touch took the ball away from Cushnie and the opening was gone.

Down rang the changes early in the second half in an attempt to getting a footing in the game, but in truth this wasn’t the county’s best performance of the week and the Italians’ composure never looked like faltering.

A couple of half chances did eventually come for Down but on neither occasion could Eoin Rooney get on the end of inviting crosses.

B Italia doubled their lead with a memorable strike on 61 minutes. There looked little in the offing when Bingo Marco stepped into the ball 30 or so yards out but his connection on the half volley sent the ball soaring over keeper Stewart to kill off any hopes Down might have had of a comeback.

DOWN: Stewart (Carry 64), Smith, Conlon, Gemmell (Rooney 47), O’Hare, Weatherup, Corbett, Carroll (Curran 63), Dinu (Teggart 53), Glover (McVeigh 63), Wynne (Cushnie 25)

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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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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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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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Premiers 2-2 Newcastle United

Dylan Stewart prepares for kick-off against Newcastle

Down heads were low at the end of this entertaining 2-2 draw, as the after the county side conceded late to give Newcastle United a share of the opening day spoils.

At rain lashed Ballymena Showgrounds and in front of the BBC cameras, the opening quarter of an hour was a competitive if uneventful spectacle with neither side causing the other much trouble.

On 15 minutes Newcastle provided the first item of note when Thomas Cole got his head to a cross from the right but Dylan Stewart made a comfortable catch.

Three minutes later and the English side were ahead. There didn’t seem to be much on but Kain Reed found a yard of space and dispatched a low, well driven shot that took a nick off a defender and just squeezed inside the Down post.

Down looked to hit back and on 21 minutes Weatherup drove inside before finding Jake Corbett and his speculative outside of the foot shot had to be well saved by the Newcastle keeper.

With a minute of the half to run, Down found the equaliser after good play from Adam Carroll to the left of goal. He could probably have took aim himself, but instead found Ethan Wynne who took a touch and rolled ball past the keeper.

Down turned the match in their favour seven minutes into the second half. From out on the left a long free kick from Glover found Carroll on the right side of the box and he caught the keeper flat footed with a long, looping header that crept in just under the bar.

On 55 minutes Down had a chance to increase their lead when low cross from Ben Cushnie squeezed through to Weatherup but his well struck shot was straight at the keeper.

A minute from the end came the hammer blow for the county team. Keeper Stewart had done well to push away a free kick but he was powerless to stop the follow up from Jude Swailes, who hammered home to salvage a point for his team.

Down: Stewart, Smith, Conlon, Gemmell, O’Hare, Weatherup (Teggart 80), Corbett, Carroll (Ferris 58), Dinu (Cushnie 53), Glover, Wynne (McVeigh 75)

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Juniors 3-1 Charlton Athletic

Junior team v Charlton Athletic

Down juniors made a fantastic start to the SuperCupNI as they picked up a 3-1 win over stunned English visitors Charlton Athletic.

In manager Gary McAlister’s first game in charge of the team, the Down boys looked impressive throughout at rain-soaked Riada Stadium and had the lead within 55 seconds when Jonah Heron smashed the ball in after Joe Hopes’ initial shot was only half cleared.

In what was a really bright started by the county, Charlton were penned in for the opening quarter of an hour with their only sight of goal being a shot from Jason Adigun that was deflected wide.

Down continued to make chances as the first half progressed and no-one came closer than Stuart McKibbin, who powered a back post header just over from a Davidson corner.

Jay Boyd was out of luck on 24 minutes when he couldn’t get on the end of Ben Hollinger’s cross and then minutes later Hollinger himself forced the Charlton keeper into a save. Right on the half-time whistle there was a let off for Down when Tolu Ladopo blazed over from a great spot inside the area.

On the other side of the break Down’s Jonah Heron went close to doubling his own tally when put through but keeper Watkins made a great stop with his legs.

Charlton were pressing hard to get back into the game and just as it looked as if they had Down under pressure, it was the county team who grabbed a second on ‘51. Lewis Davidson attacked from the right and whether he aimed a cross or shot into the area, it didn’t matter as the ball snuck inside the far post.

As the 60 minutes ran out Down put the result to bed when sub Jamie McDarby followed up on a short clearance to smash the ball in. Charlton would grab a goal back late in injury time through Ladopo but it was too late to prevent a winning start for the county.

Down: Dalzell, Hopes, Rolleston, McKibbin, Archer, Locke (Madine 58), Magee (Clarke 49), Hollinger (Lusty 49), Heron (McDarby 55), Davidson (MacDonald 56), Boyd (Doyle 42)

Captain Joshua Archer v Charlton Athletic

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Junior claim cup at Gerry Reynolds tournament

Our Junior boys got right down to action today by winning the Gerry Reynolds Memorial tournament.

Co Down, Co Armagh, Cherry Orchard, FSA, Sheffield Wednesday Development Wexford and Dundalk took part in the competition, held at St Genevieve’s Secondary School in West Belfast.

Gary McAlister’s team beat Cherry Orchard 3-0 in the first game thanks to goals from Ben Hollinger (2) and Jonah Heron.

That took them to the final where they defeated FSA 4-1 with Bailey Locke, Jay Boyd, Owen Madine and James Clarke all on the scoresheet.

Bailey Locke was named the Down player of the tournament. #DownDream18

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