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Down SuperCup NI Review – 05 Aug 2019

The final balls have now been kicked in the 2019 STATSport SuperCup NI tournament and what a week it was for County Down, with the highs of fantastic wins, to the lows of losing on kicks from the penalty mark.


In the opening fixtures on the Monday, John Bailie’s Premier boys impressed many with their determination to hold out for a scoreless draw against Right to Dream, who were to go on to finish third in the overall tournament. There was less joy for the Juniors, who suffered a 2-0 defeat to O’Higgins at Coleraine Showgrounds.


There was further elation for the Premiers against Atlante on the Tuesday, with a penalty enough to separate them from Mexican side in a 1-0 win, however there was disbelief for the Juniors, as they fell to a 4-1 loss against Global Premier Soccer, despite having the better of the play.


In the final qualifying games the Premiers were able to hold off late pressure from Japanese side Riseisha HS to hang on for a 2-1 victory, while there was finally jubilation for Gary McAlister’s squad, as they demolished Strikers 3-0.


A record of two wins and one draw saw the Premiers compete for the Globe, only to experience agony as NC Elite held their nerve to win on kicks from the penalty mark, following a 1-1 draw after normal time. With only a 3rd/4th position to play for on the Friday, tiredness began to take its toll, with the boys falling to a 3-2 defeat against County Tyrone.


The Juniors were offered the opportunity to overturn their earlier defeat against Global Premier Soccer, with the sides again facing each other in the semi-final of the Bowl. With the scores level at full time, there were further kicks from the penalty mark, with Down going on to win 5-3.


Unfortunately the kicks from the penalty mark were to be their downfall in the final, with Manchester United lifting the trophy after a 2-2 draw at the end of normal time.


Everyone at County Down expressed their wish to thank all those who took part in the trials and the parents who gave up their spare time to attend, as well as offer their encouragement.


In addition, they offered a massive thank you to all their sponsors, as without their support the boys simply would not have been able to compete in the tournament.


Individual Down Awards


Down Junior Players of the Tournament – Scott Rolleston and Dylan Sloan

Down Junior Top Goalscorers – Aaron Wightman and Patrick Shearer-

Nevin Spence Cup – Harry Wilson

Down Premier Player of the Tournament – Kristopher Cowan

Down Premier Goal of the Tournament – Conall Murray


McCloskey Cup – Ryan Dalzell

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Down Premiers 2 v Riseisha HS 1– 31 Jul 2019

After two impressive performances in the opening games, Down took on Riseisha HS in their final qualifier at Castlerock, knowing a win could potentially catapult them into the SuperCupNI semi-finals.

With the slope in their path it took only two minutes for Riseisha to indicate they were out to spoil the party, with Dalzell having to be alert to save a powerful shot from distance.

Playing with the speed and tidiness that has become associated with Japanese football, Down were finding it difficult to carve out any openings of their own in the initial exchanges, however it was evident that Manager Bailie had drilled his chosen formation well into his players.

The first opportunity for Down fell to Archer, who almost capitalised after a short corner move went wrong, however his effort went wide of the right hand post.

A free kick on the right hand side of the box from McVeigh was to follow, with Burns raising highest to meet it. Despite the best efforts of the Riseisha keeper to keep the ball in front of him, the Referee adjusted it had crossed the line, sending a large cheer around the sidelines.

Not to be disheartened the Japanese side went straight on the attack, with a superbly executed tackle from Cowan coming to his team’s rescue as an equalizer seemed inevitable.

The impressive back four of Down continued to hold their shape as the game progressed, with Rieisha being reduced to shots from distance that never looked like troubling Dalzell.

Few in the surrounding area could be in no doubt from Manager Bailie’s half time talk that he wanted more from his players, with Doyle almost given his side the dream start in the second period, but his shot from the right was well saved.

Sensing the opportunity to get back into the game Riseisha began stepping up the tempo, which almost paid off on 15 minutes, only to see the Assistant Referee rule against a goal due to an off-side.

In a rare attack Murray powered down the left hand touchline, beat his marker and placed the ball in the net, only to have his celebrations cut short when it was Down’s turn to have a score notched off, due to an earlier off-side in the play.

As the clock showed 10 mins to the end, McVeigh and Murray exchanged passes on the left hand side of the Rieisha box, before the former accelerated into the box and aimed the ball towards the back post. Despite the frantic efforts to clear, Magee was the first to react as the ball fell kindly to him, leaving the substitute to make no mistake as he blasted into the net to double his side’s lead.

Demonstrating why a team can be at their most dangerous when they concede, Rieisha drove straight back up the pitch, with Dalzell coming to the rescue with his feet.

There was nothing the young stopper could do a few minutes later as the final whistle approached, with the goal of the game coming from Rieisha, as the ball flew into the top right hand corner of the net.

With hearts in mouths as the seconds ticked down, Bailie’s boys remained firm in defence, seeing out the game and recording another victory in this year’s competition.

As the celebrations died down news filtered through that Right to Dream had secured top spot in the group, however that was not enough to dampen the spirts amongst the immensely talented squad of players.     

Team: Dalzell, McKevitt, Cowan, Burns, Archer, McDerby, Doyle, McVeigh, Barbour, Keenan, Gitrap

Subs: Morgan, Kearney, Murray, Bickerstaff, Ouldhamalt, Magee, Pauley

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Down Juniors 1 v Global Premier Soccer 4

Down Juniors 1 v Global Premier Soccer 4 – 30 Jul 2019

After falling to opening day defeats, both the Down side and their American counterparts were equally clear that if their tournament chances were to remain on track, a win was needed in this fixture.

From the outset both sets of players demonstrated they were keen to play football on the immaculate surface, with it not taking long for the Down boys to engineer their first clear opportunity.

Powering down the right hand side, Joe Hopes spied Morrow inside the box, who latched onto the cross and struck an effort that agonisingly cannoned of the post, with the GPS keeper well beaten.

Shearer was next to go close after Rolleston floated a freekick into the box, but his effort was to go wide of the net after the Glentoran player went off balance while turning to get his attempt away.

In a rare attack GPS made their way into the final third of the pitch on 9 minutes. Danger appeared to have been averted when the ball was placed at the feet of Burns in the Down net, however a mistake gifted the GPS striker with the easiest of finishes to give his side the lead.

Not to be dismayed McAlister’s players regrouped and were soon on the attack again, however Shearer’s header lacked any venom at the back left post.

Too much confidence in playing out from the back almost cost GPS on 15 mins, with the Down forward line closing the ball down well, which offered up an opportunity to Atchison, only to see his chance saved well.

GPS themselves were unlucky not to extend their lead following a long ball into the box from the left hand side, which alluded not just the Down defence, but the American’s forward line.

With the half-time whistle approaching the Down players attempted to grab their illusive first goal, however an attempt from Sloan went high over the bar, before the Referee waved away claims of a handball inside the box, as the first half action came to a close.

It was a flying start straight from kick-off for GPS, with them winning a corner in the opening minute. Failing to clear the ball sufficiently saw the ball fall to the American’s centre half, who made no mistake as he doubled his sides lead, with his shot coming to rest in the top right hand corner of the net.

Urged on by Manager McAlister and his backroom staff, the Down boys pushed hard to get back into the game, with Morrow’s effort from two yards out somehow making its way into the GPS keeper’s hands.

With 12 mins gone, Sloan was brought down in the box, with the Referee given no choice but to point to the penalty spot. Stepping up was the impressive Shearer, who blasted the ball into the net, offering his side hope of a deserved comeback.

Now chasing their second, Whightman played a delightful ball from the right onto Shearer’s head, however he could not find the direction to land it in the goal.

After soaking up the pressure, it was GPS’s turn to counter attack down the left hand. Cries for an offside went unheard, with the resulting shot being sent past Burns to restore the two goal deficit.

It was further misery only a minute later after Down failed to clear, with a further long range shot getting the better of Burns again, extending the scoreline to 4-1.

As Down push further forward in the closing stages there was always going to be the risk of leaving gaps at the back, which almost cost them further, however the post came to the rescue.

Despite continuing to push right to the end, it was simply not to be for Down, with few leaving the Riada complex in any doubt that the scoreline did not reflect the performance put in by the players.

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2019 Tournament underway

It has been a hive of activity on the North Coast over the last few weeks and while the golfing superstars have moved on, it is the turn of the footballing talent of the future to take centre stage, with the 2019 STATSports SuperCup NI tournament now underway.

County Down’s opening account was always going to be a demanding challenge for John Bailie’s Premier squad, with the 2017 winners Right to Dream up first.

Being no stranger to the big occasion over the years himself, Bailie no doubt had installed the need for discipline and hard work in his young player’s minds and that they delivered in abundance.

Despite the sheer class on offer from the side from Ghana, the Down boys stood strong together and produced a spirited performance to bring their first points of the tournament, with the impressive Dalzell in goal helping to secure a 0-0 draw.

In the other Group A game, Riseisha HS thrashed Atlante 5-0, giving the Down camp plenty to think about in their remaining qualification fixtures for the next stage.

While there was joy as the final whistle went in the Premier’s camp, there was a marked contrast as attentions changed to the Juniors, who commenced their encounter at Coleraine Showgrounds against O’Higgins.

With a squad showing tremendous potential expectations were set high as captain Harry Wilson led his side out, however it wasn’t to be, with their opponents scoring twice in the opening period and running out eventual 2-0 winners.

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County Down Juniors 0 O’Higgins 2

Down Juniors kicked off their 2019 STATSports Super Cup ambitions at a wet and dreary Coleraine Showgrounds, with those close to the squad having high hopes for their group of players, rated as some of the best to come through in the last few years.

In the early encounters it was Cousins on the left who was showing the most promise, with his through ball to Ingrim almost curving out the opening opportunity for his side, however the run was timed slightly wrong and called for off-side.

On 7 mins the travelling Down supporters were off their seats when it looked like Hopes had met Whightman’s corner from the right, only to see the ball run agonisingly away from the goal.

O’Higgins themselves had a glorious opportunity a minute later, when a ball from their left evaded the Down defence and with the goal at his mercy, the Chilean striker somehow missed his target.

At the other end the impressive Cousins cut into this right and let fire from 25 yards, only to see his effort pushed wide by the O’Higgins keeper.

The first set back to McAlister’s boys was to come on 14 minutes, when an O’Higgins player received the ball on the right hand side of the field. Driving inside to his left space opened up and when he let fire from the edge of the box there was only one final destination, despite the best attempts of Evans as he dived to his left.

Not to be dismayed Rolleston looked to get his side back into the game immediately, with his driving run from his own half being brought to a halt, as he was fouled on the edge of the opposition box. The resulting free kick from Wilson was sent high over the stand, leaving his side still chasing the equalizer.

Good work from Ingrim chasing what looked like a lost cause on the left saw a corner gained on 19 mins, with Hopes height almost coming into play again. It was an O’Higgins touch that sent the ball away from danger as a goal seemed certain.

That next goal was to come in disastrous circumstances for the Down side however, with Evans failing to deal with a high ball at his near post. With the wet conditions no doubt playing a part as the ball appeared to slip through his hands, the O’Higgins striker was left with the easiest of chances to double his team’s lead from close range.

Hopes was again to go close with his head as the half came to an end, however it was not to be as the ball again rolled wide after a long ball into the box.

The halftime team talk seen a more attacking start from Down, with Sloan unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet, with his effort from outside of the box saved well as it travelled towards the bottom right of the goal.

Whightman continued to show good potential out on the right as he knocked the ball past his marker, only to see his tantalising cross dealt with confidence by the O’Higgins keeper.

As time continued to run down there was a glimmer of hope with 3 minutes to go, as Shearer went down in the box following a last gasp tackle, however the Referee was having none of the appeals and waved play on.

Shearer was to have the ball in net as the final whistle approached, however a raised flag from the Assistant Referee was to bring heartache, with the effort ruled to be off-side.

Co. Down Squad

Matthew Evans, Scott Rollerston, Harry Wilson ©, Joe Hopes, Luke Reddington, Aaron Whightman, Seamus OgMcNulty, Dylan Sloan, Joe Cousins, Patrick Shearer, Bradley Ingrim.

Subs: Ewan McCoubrey, Scott Atchison, Chris McDonald, Robbie Morrow, Daniel Kirk, Harry Norton, Ronan Burns.

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Thank you Regency cars

On behalf of County Down SuperCup, we would like to offer our thanks to Regency cars Newtownards for providing transport to this year’s competition.

Pictured is an automatic Peugeot 3008 automatic, which is available for test drive.

To arrange please call 028 9181 4581 or visit 43 Portaferry Rd, Newtownards BT23 8NN

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Sponsorship – Benjamin Magee

Thank you to each of the following for their generous sponsorship of Benjamin Magee, who is representing this year’s Premier Squad.

1. Julie Hastings
2. David Sloane of Sloane Gates

Note the famous Hastings Group football duck within the photo with Benji and Julie.

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