2011 Tournament

Saturday 30th July 2011 – County Down Premier Milk Cup round-up

County Down’s Premier side enjoyed a terrific 2011 Milk Cup, winning the Vase competition and being named as the top county side. John Bailie’s team put in two herculion performances against the evental winners Aspire from Quatar – losing to two late goals, and also against last year’s winners Etoile Lusitana from Senegal, who beat County Down by a single goal. Apart from those two narrow defeats, Down won their other three matches, scoring ten goals in the process.

County Down recorded an emphatic 4-0 win over Armagh at Parker Avenue in Portrush on Monday evening. The opening goal came a minute short of the half-hour mark. Steven McCullough’s free-kick from inside his own half was knocked down by McCready into the path of Aaron Sills, who stooped low to head home off the inside of the far post. County Down had to wait until the 50th minute to double their advantage. Ryan Craig was unceremoniously upended inside the box by keeper Magee, and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Craig dusted himself down and whipped the ball into the top corner from the penalty spot.

Two minutes later it was 3-0. McCullough stood up a cross from the left, and Stephen Cockcroft’s header back across goal, nestled in the bottom corner. Matthew Kerr and Mark Armstrong combined perfectly to round off the scoring in the final minute. Armstrong latched onto Kerr’s fine pass before smashing the ball into the roof of the Armagh net.

County Down were just ten minutes away from recording a brilliant draw against Aspire – eventual winners of the Milk Cup, at Mullaghacall in Portstewart on Tuesday evening. Down started with a 4-5-1 formation and played on the counter attack for much of the match. Ibrahima Drame tested Carter Dawson after seven minutes as the boys from Qatar surged forward at every opportunity.

Samuel Darko and Pape Babacar N’doye had efforts for Aspire before the break, but Dawson was equal to both. Jonny Kane and Daryl Evans were working overtime at the heart of the Down defence, making several last-ditch tackles to keep the game scoreless.

Aspire started the second half with Hassan Hassaim bringing another save from Dawson. Ibrahima Drame, who went on to win the Golden Boot, then saw his 50th minute looping header land on the top of the County Down crossbar. The opening goal arrived on the hour mark when Hassaim slid the ball into the bottom corner from ten yards.

County Down conceded a second goal two minutes later with Drame getting in front of his marker to flick a header into the net. Joe McKinney had Down’s only half-chance with seven minutes remaining. His 20-yard strike was comfortably saved by the Aspire goalkeeper.

Last year’s winners of the Milk Cup, Etoile Lusitana from Senegal, were extremely fortunate to beat County Down’s Premier team 1-0 on Wednesday afternoon at Broughshane. Down enjoyed their fair share of possession throughout the match. Aaron Sills had the ball in the Lusitana net after 20 minutes, but his effort was ruled out for offside. The reigning champions took the lead with a set-piece six minutes before half-time. Diagne Pape Assane headed down for Ba Lamine to tap in at the back post.

Down continued to press for a goal after the break. Ryan McCready had a 41st-minute shot saved by the Lusitana keeper Dione Tadiane. Captain Thomas Healey went close on three separate occasions – twice forcing saves from Tadiane. The holders very nearly doubled their advantage with twelve minutes remaining. Badinca Vladimar Jose’s header was destined for the net, but the ball was superbly cleared off the line by Daryl Evans. Etoile just about held on in the latter stages to take all three points.

Down beat neighbours Antrim 4-1 in the semi-final of the Vase at Rugby Avenue in Coleraine on Thursday afternoon. County Down took a 17th minute lead. Antrim keeper Jack McCrea could only parry Steven Cockcroft’s free-kick. Ross Kelso was first to react and fed the ball to Ryan McCready who tapped in from six yards.

Antrim equalised in the 29th minute with James Haughey heading in from a corner on the right. Joe McKinney restored the County Down lead within two minutes of the restart, stabbing home from inside the area. Thomas Healey flashed a right foot shot agonisingly wide just moments later. Healey had another half-chance with eight minutes to go, but Sam McIlveen made a superb block. Aaron Sills made it 3-1 with a 70th minute header from Cockcroft’s long throw. Substitute Simon Hanna scored with just his second touch to complete a resounding victory for County Down.

County Down lifted the Northern Ireland Milk Cup Vase with a hard-fought 2-1 success over Hartlepool at Mullaghacall in Portstewart on Friday. Stephen Cockcroft tested Hartlepool keeper Dominic Scott with a fierce shot after ten minutes, but Scott made a good save to keep the game scoreless. Cockcroft provided the assist for Down’s opener four minutes later. The winger sent over a cross from the left and Aaron Sills finished well at the back post.

County Down were pegged back five minutes before half-time. Daniel Turner pumped a deep cross into the box and Steven Snaith flicked his header past Dawson for the equaliser. Mark Armstrong replaced Assistance Makhathini with twenty minutes remaining, and he was central to County Down lifting the Vase. Armstrong had two decent opportunities to win the game, but both efforts were disappointing by his standards.

However Armstrong was not to be denied. He picked up the ball inside the 18-yard box with four minutes of the game to go, and fired home left-footed to earn County Down the Vase Trophy. County Down skipper Thomas Healey was named County Player of the Competition after the Vase final. Awards were then handed out at the Lodge Hotel in Coleraine. Healey lifted the McCloskey Cup to add to his earlier prize.

Daryl Evans was named the Player’s Player of the tournament. Aaron Sills won the Top-Scorer award.

Down ended the week by being named the ‘Top County’ in the Premier section.

Premier Squad: Carter Dawson, James McConville, Philip Egerton, Daryl Evans, Joe McKinney, Steven McCullough, Ross Kelso, Thomas Healey, Ryan Craig, Stephen Cockcroft, Ryan McCready, Aaron Sills, Jonny Kane, Stuart Muldrew, Simon Hanna, Mark Armstrong, Matthew Kerr, Assistance Makhathini.


Thomas Healey who won the County Player of the Tournament and the McCloskey Cup with Manager John Bailie


Premier top-scorer Aaron Sills with Manager John Bailie


Daryl Evans – Premier Player’s Player with John Baile

Saturday 30th July 2011 – County Down Junior Milk Cup round-up

County Down’s Junior team didn’t quite meet the heights of previous years, but nonetheless, finished the week as Milk Cup Junior Fair Play Trophy winners.

County Down had to settle for a 2-2 draw in the first match of their 2011 Milk Cup campaign at Broughshane on Monday. Paul Ritchie’s side led twice but couldn’t prevent a stubborn Dundalk side from earning a share of the spoils.

County Down brought Adam Calvert and James Milligan on at the start of the second half, and their impact couldn’t have been more immediate. On 40 minutes, Milligan picked up a loose ball on the edge of the 18 yard-box, before firing a shot that squirmed under the body of the Dundalk keeper and into the net.

The lead lasted only four minutes as County Down were undone down the right flank. Mikey Nulty’s cross carried across the box to Craig Doherty who drilled the ball into the corner past Marc Reid.

The goal of the game arrived with 13 minutes remaining. Down full-back George Gray picked up the ball just inside his own half before unleashing a thunderous 35-yard shot that flew over Keenan to restore the advantage for the local lads.

Despite all their pressure, Down conceded deep into injury-time. The referee adjudged Adam Calvert’s tackle on Ciaran O’Connor as a foul and pointed to the spot. Craig Doherty made County Down pay the price by tucking away the penalty past Reid – for his second goal of the match.

Next came an impressive 2-0 win over Hapoel Haifa at Anderson Park in Coleraine on Tuesday afternoon.

The locals stormed into a 2nd minute lead when Callum Byers’ cross was converted by striker Josh Doherty.

Down keeper Robert Smyth made sure that his team went in ahead at half-time with a great stop to prevent Idan Golan’s attempted lob on 25 minutes.

County Down made the perfect start to the second half. Nicholas Turkington reacted quickest to meet Rory Sharvin’s front post flick-on, and in doing so give Paul Ritchie’s charges a two-goal buffer.

It was a lead that County Down protected – thanks mainly to the efforts of Robert Smyth who was making his first start in goal. Smyth produced two mind-boggling saves late into the match to keep a clean sheet.

County Down wasted a great chance to progress into the Milk Cup proper, losing 1-0 to Watford at the Riada Stadium on Wednesday. Down dominated the opening half and had a few decent opportunities to take the lead. Nathan McAleese played in Jordan Lucas who was about to pull the trigger when Watford centre-back Justin Marrah made a last-ditch tackle to deny him.

Lucas spurned the best chance of the half after 24 minutes. Having been put through on goal by skipper Eoghan McCawl, the wirey striker hit his shot straight at the Hornets’ keeper.
Watford scored the winner with 12 minutes of the match remaining. Kunie Otudeko played the ball to Matt Hall who made no mistake at the back post.

County Down lost 5-4 on penalties in the semi-final of the Milk Cup Vase at Castlerock on Thursday. The game had ended 1-1 in normal time. Argyle took an eighth-minute lead when County Down failed to clear a corner, Lee Rooney converted at the second attempt.

Down were extremely unfortunate not to equalise two minutes later. Josh Doherty picked up a loose ball before unleashing a left foot effort from 20 yards that slammed back off the Plymouth bar. The county lads deservedly equalised three minutes before half-time. James Milligan flicked on Marc Reid’s kick out, and Josh Doherty took a touch before burying the ball into the bottom corner. County Down hit the crossbar for a second time two minutes later as Dale Patton saw his 30-yard pot-shot come back off the underside of the woodwork.

Marc Reid made two point-blank saves at the end before being replaced by Robert Smyth ahead of the penalty shoot-out as the game ended in a draw.

Edgar, Walker, Turkington and Doherty all scored from the spot for County Down. Adam Calvert’s effort clipped the top of the bar. Plymouth also missed a spot-kick, but Eoghan McCawl’s sudden-death miss ultimately meant County Down lost 5-4 on penalties.

County Down ended their 2011 Milk Cup campaign with a straightforward 2-0 win over Londonderry at the Riada Stadium in Ballymoney on Friday. Down took a deserved lead in the 12th minute. Doherty’s shot was too hot for Mitchell to handle, and Sharvin was quickest out of the blocks to score from six yards.

County Down got a second goal to wrap up the victory with seven minutes remaining. Ruari Sharvin was upended in the Londonderry box and earned a penalty. Doherty stepped up and despatched the penalty – sending the keeper the wrong way.

Prizes were given out at the Lodge Hotel in Coleraine afterwards. Michael Edgar won the Player’s Player award. Callum Byers lifted the Chairman’s Cup, and Josh Doherty was named top-scorer. Down were awarded the Milk Cup Junior Fair Play Trophy at the finals at Ballymena on Friday afternoon to round off the week.

Junior Squad: Robert Smyth, Marc Reid, Callum Byers, Michael Edgar, Adam Calvert, George Gray, Cameron Murray, Nicholas Turkington, Eoghan McCawl, Dale Patton, Adam Salley, Josh Doherty, Ruari Sharvin, Jordan Lucas, James Milligan, Nathan McAleese, Jack Uprichard, Matthew Walker.


Junior top-scorer Josh Doherty with Coach Spiers


Junior Player’s Player Michael Edgar with Coach Kyle Spiers


Chairman’s Cup – Callum Byers with Bobbie Reid

Saturday 30th July 2011 – County Down Draw Winners 2011

Lodge Hotel – Mark Farrell, Newry
BBQ – Jonny Hillier, Belfast
Signed NI shirt – Shaun McMorran, Belfast
Dyson cleaner – B McBride, Comber
Shoefair voucher – K Dawson, Belfast
Boxing gloves – K Dawson, Belfast
Beauty voucher – Alan Dougherty, Castlerock
Hilton Hotel vouchers – B McBride, Comber
NI v Faroes tickets – Cathal Conlon, Newry

Friday 29th July 2011 – ‘Super-sub’ Armstrong is match-winner for County Down

Premier section – County Down 2 Hartlepool 1

County Down lifted the Northern Ireland Milk Cup Vase with a hard-fought 2-1 success over Hartlepool at Mullaghacall in Portstewart on Friday.

Ryan Craig was involved in the thick of the action early in the match and was driving John Bailie’s side forward at every opportunity.

Stephen Cockcroft tested Hartlepool keeper Dominic Scott with a fierce shot after ten minutes, but Scott made a good save to keep the game scoreless.

Cockcroft provided the assist for Down’s opener four minutes later. The winger sent over a cross from the left and Aaron Sills finished well at the back post.

County Down were pegged back five minutes before half-time. Daniel Turner pumped a deep cross into the box and Steven Snaith flicked his header past Dawson for the equaliser.

Mark Armstrong replaced Assistance Makhathini with twenty minutes remaining, and he was central to County Down lifting the Vase.

Armstrong had two decent opportunities to win the game, but both efforts were disappointing by his standards.

However Armstrong was not to be denied. He picked up the ball inside the 18-yard box with four minutes of the game to go, and fired home left-footed to earn County Down the title of best County side in the Premier section.

County Down skipper Thomas Healey was named County Player of the Competition after the Vase final.

Team: Dawson, Egerton, Evans, Kane, Kerr, Craig, Hanna, Healey, Cockcroft, Sills, Makhathini.
Subs: McConville, Armstrong, McCullough, McKinney, Kelso, McCready, Muldrew.


The County Down Premier squad celebrate after lifting the Milk Cup Vase on Friday


Mark Armstrong – Match-winner in the Vase final

Friday 29th July 2011 – Sharvin and Doherty goals earn final day win for Juniors

Junior section – County Down 2 County Londonderry 0

County Down ended their 2011 Milk Cup campaign with a straightforward 2-0 win over Londonderry at the Riada Stadium in Ballymoney on Friday.

Ruari Sharvin went close to opening the scoring after five minutes. His flick from Josh Doherty’s left-wing cross flew just past the post.

Eoghan McCawl tested County Londonderry keeper Connor Mitchell with a shot four minutes later, but it was saved and the ball was scrambled to safety.

Down took a deserved lead in the 12th minute. Doherty’s shot was too hot for Mitchell to handle, and Sharvin was quickest out of the blocks to score from six yards.

Doherty almost doubled that lead with a 25-yard shot five minutes before the break, but Mitchell pushed it around the post.

County Down got a second goal to wrap up the victory with seven minutes remaining. Ruari Sharvin was upended in the Londonderry box and earned a penalty. Doherty stepped up and despatched the penalty – sending the keeper the wrong way.

In the last ten minutes Down were completely on top. Doherty and Sharvin had chances to increase the score but the game finished 2 – 0.

Down were awarded the Milk Cup Junior Fair Play Trophy at the Milk Cup finals at Ballymena on Friday afternoon to round off the week.

Team: Smyth, Byers, Edgar, Murray, Calvert, Turkington, McCawl, Patton, Salley, Doherty, Sharvin.
Subs: Reid, Lucas, McAleese, Uprichard, Walker.


Josh Doherty slots home from the spot to put County Down 2-up against Londonderry


Jordan Lucas in action against County Londonderry

Thursday 28th July 2011 – Victory over Antrim ensures Down make Vase final

Premier section – County Down 4 County Antrim 1

Down beat neighbours Antrim convincingly in the semi-final of the Vase at Rugby Avenue in Coleraine on Thursday afternoon.

Aaron Sills thought he had given his team a 15th-minute lead, but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Two minutes later County Down scored the opening goal of the match. Antrim keeper Jack McCrea could only parry Steven Cockcroft’s free-kick. Ross Kelso was first to react and fed the ball to Ryan McCready who tapped in from six yards. Antrim equalised in the 29th minute with James Haughey heading in from a corner on the right.

Joe McKinney restored the County Down lead within two minutes of the restart, stabbing home from inside the area. Thomas Healey flashed a right foot shot agonisingly wide just moments later. Healey had another half-chance with eight minutes to go, but Sam McIlveen made a superb block.

Aaron Sills made it 3-1 with a 70th minute header from Cockcroft’s long throw. Substitute Simon Hanna scored with just his second touch to complete a resounding victory for County Down.

Team: Dawson, Egerton, Evans, Kane, McCullough, Kelso, Healey, McKinney, Cockcroft, McCready, Sills.
Subs: McConville, Hanna, Armstrong, Craig, Muldrew, Kerr, Makhathini.


Aaron Sills puts in an aerial challenge on Sam McIlveen of Antrim


Joe McKinney scored County Down’s second against Antrim

Thursday 28th July 2011 – Down lose to Plymouth in sudden-death shootout

Junior section – County Down 1 Plymouth Argyle 1 (Plymouth Argyle won 5-4 on penalties)

County Down lost out on penalties in the semi-final of the Vase at Castlerock on Thursday.

Argyle took an eighth-minute lead when County Down failed to clear a corner, Lee Rooney converted at the second attempt. Down were extremely unfortunate not to equalise two minutes later. Josh Doherty picked up a loose ball before unleashing a left foot effort from 20 yards that slammed back off the Plymouth bar.

The county lads deservedly equalised three minutes before half-time. James Milligan flicked on Marc Reid’s kick out, and Josh Doherty took a touch before burying the ball into the bottom corner.

County Down hit the crossbar for a second time two minutes later as Dale Patton saw his 30-yard pot-shot come back off the underside of the woodwork.

Milligan and Adam Salley both had efforts early in the second half as Down pressed forward. Nicholas Turkington saw his 45th-minute lob saved by the Plymouth keeper.

Marc Reid made two point-blank saves at the end before being replaced by Robert Smyth ahead of the penalty shoot-out as the game ended in a draw.

Edgar, Walker, Turkington and Doherty all scored from the spot for County Down. Adam Calvert’s effort clipped the top of the bar. Plymouth also missed a spot-kick, but Eoghan McCawl’s sudden-death miss ultimately meant County Down lost 5-4 on penalties.

Team: Reid, Byers, Edgar, Walker, Turkington, Uprichard, Doherty, McAleese, Patton, Milligan, Salley.
Subs: Smyth, Calvert, Lucas, McCawl, Murray, Sharvin.


James Milligan in action against Plymouth Argyle


County Down’s Nathan McAleese is surrounded by three Argyle players

Wednesday 27th July 2011 – Holders nick single goal victory against gutsy Down boys

Premier section – County Down 0 Etoile Lusitana 1

Last year’s winners of the Milk Cup, Etoile Lusitana from Senegal, were extremely fortunate to beat County Down’s Premier team on Wednesday afternoon at Broughshane.

Down enjoyed their fair share of possession throughout the match. However, Etoile full-back Toure Mamadou almost put his side in front after nine minutes. His cross-cum-shot went narrowly over James McConville’s crossbar. Aaron Sills had the ball in the Lusitana net after 20 minutes, but his effort was ruled out for offside.

The reigning champions took the lead with a set-piece six minutes before half-time. Diagne Pape Assane headed down for Ba Lamine to tap in at the back post. Down continued to press for a goal after the break. Ryan McCready had a 41st minute shot saved by the Lusitana keeper Dione Tadiane. Captain Thomas Healey went close on three separate occasions – twice forcing saves from Tadiane.

The holders very nearly doubled their advantage with twelve minutes remaining. Badinca Vladimar Jose’s header was destined for the net, but the ball was superbly cleared off the line by Daryl Evans. Etoile just about held on in the latter stages to take all three points.

Team: McConville, Egerton, Kane, Evans, McCullough, Craig, Healey, McKinney, Kerr, Sills, McCready.
Subs: Dawson, Kelso, Muldrew, Cockcroft, Hanna, Armstrong, Makhathini.


Thomas Healey in action against Etoile Lusitana


Philip Egerton gets in front of his marker in the 1-0 defeat to Etoile

Wednesday 27th July 2011 – Junior team stung by the Hornets

Junior section – County Down 0 Watford 1

County Down wasted a great chance to progress into the Milk Cup proper, losing by a single goal to Watford at the Riada Stadium on Wednesday.

Down dominated the opening half and had a few decent opportunities to take the lead. Josh Doherty brought a save from the Watford keeper after eleven minutes. Nathan McAleese then played in Jordan Lucas who was about to pull the trigger when Watford centre-back Justin Marrah made a last-ditch tackle to deny him. Lucas spurned the best chance of the half after 24 minutes. Having been put through on goal by skipper Eoghan McCawl, the wirey striker hit his shot straight at the Hornets’ keeper.

Watford took the lead with 12 minutes of the match remaining. Kunie Otudeko played the ball to Matt Hall who made no mistake at the back post. McCawl tested the Watford stopper seven minutes later from 20 yards, but it wasn’t to be for the local boys who left Ballymoney disappointed to have lost.

Team: Smyth, Calvert, Edgar, Murray, Byers, Gray, McCawl, McAleese, Uprichard, Doherty, Lucas.
Subs: Reid, Milligan, Salley, Walker, Sharvin, Turkington, Patton.


Jack Uprichard gets his head to the ball


Skipper Eoghan McCawl with the Watford captain before the clash at Ballymoney

Tuesday 26th July 2011 – County Down undone by two late Aspire goals

Premier Section – County Down 0 Aspire 2

County Down were just ten minutes away from recording a resolute draw against one of the Milk Cup favourites at Mullaghacall in Portstewart on Tuesday evening.

Down started with a 4-5-1 formation and played on the counter attack for much of the match.

Ibrahima Drame tested Carter Dawson after seven minutes as the boys from Qatar surged forward at every opportunity.

Samuel Darko and Pape Babacar N’doye had efforts for Aspire before the break, but Dawson was equal to both.

Jonny Kane and Daryl Evans were working overtime at the heart of the Down defence, making several last-ditch tackles to keep the game scoreless.

Aspire started the second half with Hassan Hassaim bringing another save from Dawson. Ibrahima Drame then saw his 50th minute looping header land on the top of the County Down crossbar.

The opening goal arrived on the hour mark when Hassaim slid the ball into the bottom corner from ten yards.

County Down conceded a second goal two minutes later with Drame getting in front of his marker to flick a header into the net.

Joe McKinney had Down’s only half-chance with seven minutes remaining. His 20-yard strike was comfortably saved by the Aspire goalkeeper.

Team: Dawson, Egerton, McCullough, Craig, Evans, Kane, Healey, McKinney, Muldrew, Cockcroft, Sills.
Subs: Hanna, Armstrong, Kerr, Makhathini, McConville, McCready, Kelso.


Carter Dawson was the busier of the keepers in the 2-0 loss to Aspire


Joe McKinney in action against Aspire


The County Down Premier team that started against Aspire

Tuesday 26th July 2011 – Victory in the sun for slick Down outfit

Junior Section – County Down 2 Hapoel Haifa 0

The Junior team registered an impressive 2-0 win over Hapoel Haifa at Anderson Park in Coleraine on Tuesday afternoon.

The locals stormed into a 2nd minute lead when Callum Byers’ cross was converted by striker Josh Doherty.

Neat interplay between George Gray and Eoghan McCawl almost resulted in a second goal for County Down after eight minutes. Gray beat his marker down the right flank and fed the ball to McCawl. However, Hapoel keeper Oftek Antman was on hand to make the save to deny him.

Josh Doherty very nearly doubled his tally five minutes before the break. Doherty turned inside, before curling a left-foot shot from 20-yards that whizzed agonisingly over the bar.

Down keeper Robert Smyth made sure that his team went in ahead at half-time with a great stop to prevent Idan Golan’s attempted lob on 25 minutes.

County Down made the perfect start to the second half. Nicholas Turkington reacted quickest to meet Rory Sharvin’s front post flick-on, and in doing so give Paul Ritchie’s charges a two-goal buffer.

It was a lead that County Down protected – thanks mainly to the efforts of Robert Smyth who was making his first start in goal. Smyth produced a fantastic one-handed stop to keep out Golan’s goal-bound lob with six minutes remaining.

He was called into action again in the dying seconds of the match – this time tipping over a Ofek Fishler shot whilst at full stretch to ensure a first clean-sheet of the tournament for the Junior’s.

Team: Smyth, Byers, Edgar, Walker, Calvert, Gray, Turkington, McAleese, McCawl, Sharvin, Doherty.
Subs: Reid, Milligan, Salley, Murray, Lucas, Uprichard.


Callum Byers in action against Hapoel Haifa


Josh Doherty is congratulated after scoring


Robert Smyth who was in imperious form against Hapoel


The Junior backroom staff look on against Haifa

Monday 25th July 2011 – Four-midable Down put Armagh to the sword

Premier Section – County Down 4 County Armagh 0


Ryan Craig made and scored a penalty in the 4-0 win over
County Armagh

The Premier team recorded an emphatic 4-0 win at Parker Avenue in Portrush on Monday evening.

Ryan McCready could have edged John Bailie’s side in front after ten minutes, but Armagh keeper Conor Magee made a point-blank save to deny the centre-forward.

The opening goal came a minute short of the half-hour mark. Steven McCullough’s free-kick from inside his own half was knocked down by McCready into the path of Aaron Sills, who stooped low to head home off the inside of the far post.

County Down had to wait until the 50th minute to double their advantage. Ryan Craig was unceremoniously upended inside the box by keeper Magee, and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Craig dusted himself down and whipped the ball into the top corner from the penalty spot.

Two minutes later it was 3-0. McCullough stood up a cross from the left, and Stephen Cockcroft’s header back across goal, nestled in the bottom corner.

Matthew Kerr and Mark Armstrong combined perfectly to round off the scoring in the final minute. Armstrong latched onto Kerr’s fine pass before smashing the ball into the roof of the Armagh net.

Team: McConville, Egerton, Evans, McKinney, McCullough, Kelso, Healey, Craig, Cockcroft, McCready, Sills.
Subs: Kane, Muldrew, Hanna, Armstrong, Kerr, Makhathini, Dawson.


Aaron Sills (No. 17) is congratulated by Philip Egerton after scoring the opener against County Armagh


The County Down Premier team before the match against County Armagh

Monday 25th July 2011 – Down concede injury-time penalty in opening fixture

Junior Section – County Down 2 Dundalk SBL 2


George Gray who scored from long-range in County Down’s 2-2 draw with Dundalk SBL

County Down’s Junior team had to settle for a draw in the first match of their 2011 Milk Cup campaign at Broughshane on Monday. Paul Ritchie’s side led twice but couldn’t prevent a stubborn Dundalk side from earning a share of the spoils.

Josh Doherty signalled his intent as early as the first minute, but he saw his 40-yard drive saved by Conor Keenan in the Dundalk goal.

Captain Eoghan McCawl fired a 24th minute effort over the bar as Down pressed for the opening goal of the game.

County Down brought Adam Calvert and James Milligan on at the start of the second half, and their impact couldn’t have been more immediate. On 40 minutes, Milligan picked up a loose ball on the edge of the 18 yard-box, before firing a shot that squirmed under the body of the Dundalk keeper and into the net.

The lead lasted only four minutes as County Down were undone down the right flank. Mikey Nulty’s cross carried across the box to Craig Doherty who drilled the ball into the corner past Marc Reid.

The goal of the game arrived with 13 minutes remaining. Down full-back George Gray picked up the ball just inside his own half before unleashing a thunderous 35-yard shot that flew over Keenan to restore the advantage for the local lads.

Josh Doherty was inches away from making it 3-1 on 54 minutes. The centre-forward’s 20-yard free-kick clipped the top of the angle of post and crossbar.

Despite all their pressure, Down conceded deep into injury-time. The referee adjudged Adam Calvert’s tackle on Ciaran O’Connor as a foul and pointed to the spot. Craig Doherty made County Down pay the price by tucking away the penalty past Reid – his second goal of the match.

Team: Reid, Gray, Murray, Edgar, Turkington, Uprichard, McAleese, McCawl, Patton, Doherty, Lucas.
Subs: Byers, Calvert, Milligan, Salley, Sharvin, Walker, Smyth.


The County Down Junior team that lined out against Dundalk SBL

Sunday 24th July 2011 – County Down teams raise awareness for children’s cancer charity

The County Down Junior and Premier squads wore T-shirts with the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children (NICFC) logo at the opening parade through Coleraine and environs on Sunday.

Further to this, County Down produced two one-off kits – sponsored by local electrical company called Ampion. These kits are to be ‘auctioned’ – with the funds raised going directly to the charity. Players and parents will have first refusal on purchasing the kit.

“This is a truly worthwhile cause, and we’re delighted to be raising funds and awareness for NICFC – specifically their respite centre at Shimna in Newcastle, ” said Chairman Bobbie Reid. “The facility is used by families who are affected by cancer, giving them the opportunity to escape hospitals and treatment, ” he added.


County Down Premier squad players sporting the NICFC t-shirts at the Coleraine Showgrounds.


County Down Treasurer John Hamilton and players and staff from both squads with the ‘Milk Cup’ girls.


County Down Premier squad members in full flow at the opening parade.


County Down Milk Cup PRO Barry Greene getting into the spirit at the opening parade.

Sunday 24th July 2011 – Former County Down Milk Cup player moves to Turf Moor – message from Burnley Director of Youth

Burnley Football Club is pleased to announce that we have welcomed former County Down Milk Cup player and Northern Ireland Schoolboy International Luke Conlan to the club last week on a Scholarship Agreement.

Luke from Portaferry first came to our attention through our Northern Ireland Representative, Stuart Harvey when he played for County Down in the Milk Cup in 2009 coached by John Bailie and also in a Sky Sports Victory Shield game against England. Also included in that team was Shay McCartan who has just completed his first twelve months at Turf Moor, Shay was also recommended by Stuart after impressing in the Northern Ireland Schoolboy setup.

Both players are products of the Irish F.A. County Down Excellence Squad coached by Raymond Alexander and have progressed to become Schoolboy Internationals with Irish F.A. Technical Director, Desi Curry. Since then both have featured with Paul Kee at Under 17 International level and just recently Shay McCartan has been placed on the Standby list for the Northern Ireland Squad in this year’s Elite Section of the Milk Cup.

Luke was accompanied by his parents Hugh and Linda, to the clubs induction day when the Scholarship Scheme was fully explained. Luke will be expected to continue his educational courses although the football aspect of the programme will be the main priority.

Burnley FC has a history of developing its own players and we feel Luke has the potential to make good progress and we are looking forward to seeing this come to fruition. We are delighted he has decided to join the club. It wasn’t long ago that fellow countryman Kyle Lafferty took a similar step at Burnley FC – since then Kyle has become a SPL Championship winner with Glasgow Rangers.

To help all the young players develop the club has invested heavily over the past year to improve its facilities. Burnley FC’s training complex at Gawthorpe, approximately 3 miles away from the main stadium at Turf Moor, is undergoing major redevelopment. Work on two of the grass pitches has already taken place and a 3G all weather pitch has also been installed. The building itself, which houses dressing rooms and coaches facilities, is also being renovated. This is the first phase of the development and we are hopeful that the 2nd and 3rd phases follow very quickly. The Indoor facility at Turf Moor is also having a major overhaul were an Elite Gym has been installed, also an Indoor 3G Pitch and an upgrade to the office and changing facilities, this will benefit all the players from the 1st Team Squad, Development Squad and Youth Squad right the whole way down to the Centre of Excellence.

I would like to go on record our appreciation to Luke’s former junior clubs, Grosvenor Youth and Portaferry, for their professionalism during negotiations.

Luke has been here just over a week now and has settled in well in what has been a tough week adjusting to life away from home, and not forgetting a tough first week of Pre-Season training. He will stay in digs not far from Turf Moor and he will be in handy reach of the local golf club where I am led to believe he will spend some of his leisure time whenever his footballing duties permit.

We wish him every success in his new career.

Martin Dobson
Director of Youth
Burnley Football Club

Sunday 10th July 2011 – Teams primed for 2011 Milk Cup challenge

The Premier and Junior squads are nearing the end of their preparations ahead of the Northern Ireland Milk Cup that takes place from 25th to 29th July. The panels have recently been trimmed to the pre-requisite 18 players for the tournament.

Both managers are braced to ‘lock horns’ with some of the best youth teams from around the globe.

Premier team boss, John Bailie, is eagerly anticipating the clash with reigning champions Etoile Lusitana from Senegal. “It’s going to be a huge test for our boys, having witnessed how impressive Etoile were at the competition last year. We have two very important matches before we come head-to-head with the Senegalese lads however, and these games will be crucial in determining how we do overall,” Bailie explained.

The Junior team welcome the return of management-duo Paul Ritchie and Kyle Spiers after a two-year sabbatical. Ritchie has guided a team to the semi-finals of the Milk Cup on two prior occasions, and he’s aiming to equal or better that this time around. “No county side has ever reached the final of the tournament, and obviously we would like to be the first to break that duck. The draw threw up three very different challenges in that we face a team from Ireland, one from England and an Israeli side. Every game promises to be keenly contested”, he added.

2011 Junior Panel (18 players)

Goalkeepers
Marc Reid, Newcastle; Robert Smyth, Comber.

Defenders
Callum Byers, Dundonald; Adam Calvert, Newtownards; Michael Edgar, Dundonald; George Gray, Bangor; Cameron Murray, Belfast; Matthew Walker, Ballynahinch.

Midfielders
Nathan McAleese, Castlewellan; Eoghan McCawl, Annacloy; James Milligan, Moneyreagh; Nicholas Turkington, Carryduff; Jack Uprichard, Bangor.

Forwards
Josh Doherty, Newtownards; Jordan Lucas, Bangor; Dale Patton, Dundonald; Adam Salley, Banbridge; Ruari Sharvin, Killough.

2011 Premier Panel (18 players)

Goalkeepers
Carter Dawson, Bangor; James McConville, Gilford.

Defenders
Philip Egerton, Belfast; Daryl Evans, Belfast; Johnny Kane, Belfast; Steven McCullough, Belfast; Joe McKinney, Crossgar.

Midfielders
Mark Armstrong, Cloughey; Stephen Cockcroft, Bangor; Ryan Craig, Belfast; Simon Hanna, Comber; Thomas Healey, Downpatrick; Ross Kelso, Ballywalter; Matthew Kerr, Belfast; Stuart Muldrew, Killinchy.

Forwards
Assistance Makhathini, Belfast; Ryan McCready, Newtownards; Aaron Sills, Belfast.

Premier fixtures
Monday 25th July – County Down v County Armagh, Parker Avenue , Portrush (5pm)
Tuesday 26th July – County Down v Aspire, Mullaghacall, Portstewart (7pm)
Wednesday 27th July – County Down v Etoile Lusitana, Broughshane (3.30pm)

Junior fixtures
Monday 25th July – County Down v Dundalk S.L, Broughshane (Noon)
Tuesday 26th July – County Down v Hapoel Haifa, Anderson Park , Coleraine (Noon)
Wednesday 27th July – County Down v Watford , Riada Stadium (2), Ballymoney (Noon)

The tournament kicks-off with the traditional opening parade around Coleraine on Sunday, 24th July. Matches run from 25th -29th July.

Friday 24th June 2011 – Junior squad recover after defeat in opener

County Down ’s Juniors were beaten 4-0 by a North Dublin Schoolboys side on Day One of the trip to Dublin . The home team was made up of boys who were a couple of years older on average than Paul Ritchie’s lads – and that ultimately made the difference. James Milligan, Ruari Sharvin and Jordan Lucas all had chances to score but failed to convert.


Jordan Lucas scored a brace on Sunday against NDSL

North Dublin Schoolboys Under-16 side provided the opposition on Saturday with County Down winning 3-2. An Adam Salley header and Callum Byers snap-shot gave Down a 2-0 advantage. Dublin responded with two goals of their own to level matters. Dale Patton got the winner when the Dublin keeper dropped the ball into his own net.

Down rounded off the weekend with a resounding 3-0 victory over another North Dublin XI. Jordan Lucas drilled home the opening goal from the edge of the 18-yard box after good work from Dale Patton. Lucas latched onto Eoghan McCawl’s through-ball before slotting past the keeper to double the away team’s advantage. Jack Uprichard completed the scoring with the aid of a deflection.

Wednesday 22nd June 2011 – Premier team record hat-trick of wins in Dublin

John Bailie’s squad enjoyed a successful trip to Dublin – recording three successes on their travels.

North Dublin Schools provided the opposition on Friday – with County Down coming from a goal down to win 2-1. Down conceded when a cross from the left wing caught out our central defenders. The North Dublin centre-forward chested the ball down and smashed home past Carter Dawson from eight yards. Ross Kelso equalised with a well-executed chip over the keeper, and Daryl Evans won it near the end with a front post header from a corner on the right.


Andrew Mitchell – scored in two of the three games.


Ryan McCready was in excellent goalscoring form in Dublin.

County Down continued where they left off the following day by beating Inzaka 4-1. Goals from Andrew Mitchell and Ryan Craig gave Down a 2-0 half-time lead. Craig cut the ball back for Assistance Makhathini who ran through and finished coolly. Ryan McCready and Simon Hanna’s long-range strike made it four. Keeper Jacob Halliday couldn’t do anything to prevent Inzaka scoring a last-minute consolation.

Bailie’s charges rounded off the weekend with a resounding 5-0 victory against Navan Town . An Andrew Mitchell strike and a Daryl Evans front post header gave Down a comfortable lead at the break. Ryan McCready then scored a second half double. Timmy Lai notched the fifth after being put through one-on-one with the Navan keeper. James McConville was in excellent form between the posts for County Down .

Sunday 19th June 2011 – Finer details released

Venues and times for the 2011 Milk Cup fixtures were released today. There are two notable changes to the games for John Bailie’s Premier squad due to team withdrawals.

Premier fixtures
Monday 25th July – County Down v County Armagh, Parker Avenue , Portrush (5pm)
Tuesday 26th July – County Down v Aspire, Mullaghacall, Portstewart (7pm)
Wednesday 27th July – County Down v Etoile Lusitana, Broughshane (3.30pm)

Note – Due to team withdrawals, the fixtures were re-jigged by the Milk Cup organisers. This has led to fixture changes on Monday and Tuesday of the tournament.

Junior fixtures
Monday 25th July – County Down v Dundalk S.L, Broughshane (Noon)
Tuesday 26th July – County Down v Hapoel Haifa, Anderson Park , Coleraine (Noon)
Wednesday 27th July – County Down v Watford , Riada Stadium (2), Ballymoney (Noon)

Tuesday 14th June 2011 – Tyrone lift Mourne Cup

County Down’s Juniors lost their grip on the Mourne Cup at Kilmore Playing Fields on Saturday. Paul Ritchie’s charges won two of their three games in impressive fashion, but they came undone against County Tyrone – losing 3-1.

Lisburn Distillery provided the opposition in the first match. Ashley Lowry brought a smart save from the Whites’ keeper in the fifth minute and Jordan Lucas was on hand to convert to open the scoring.

Lucas doubled his tally ten minutes into the second half. Eoghan McCawl opened up the Distillery defence with an excellent slide-rule pass and Lucas tucked the ball into the bottom corner.

Josh Doherty made it 3-0 with a succulent left-foot volley from George Gray’s pinpoint cross.


The victorious Tyrone team

County Down then made wholesale changes to the starting eleven to take on Tyrone in game two. The visitors dominated the opening exchanges without scoring and it was scoreless at the break.

Tyrone took the lead five minutes in the second half with their left-winger scoring from ten yards.

Adam Salley levelled the game with a stunning free kick from 20 yards, just six minutes later.

Nicholas Turkington’s corner clipped the top of the Tyrone bar as County Down threatened to take an improbable lead.

Paul Kee’s side made sure of victory with two well-worked goals in the closing three minutes to run out 3-1 victors.

County Down thrashed Dundalk 5-0 in the last game of the day.

Josh Doherty got things underway in the 14th minute, following good work by Salley.

Dale Patton lobbed in number two just before the break. Rory Sharvin scored a quick-fire double to make it 4-0. Eoghan McCawl got his name on the scoresheet with a goal right at the death – but it wasn’t enough as County Tyrone recorded a 3-3 draw with Lisburn Distillery. The point proved enough to earn Tyrone the Mourne Cup.

Results:
County Down 3 Lisburn Distillery 0
County Tyrone 2 Dundalk 0
County Down 1 County Tyrone 3
Dundalk 2 Lisburn Distillery 3
County Down 5 Dundalk 0
Lisburn Distillery 3 County Tyrone 3


Nicholas Turkington closes down a Tyrone opponent


County Down chairman Bobbie Reid presents the captain with the Mourne Cup

Sunday 5th June 2011 – Provisional panels selected

The search is over! After exhaustive trials throughout the county, both managers have selected their panels up to the pre-tournament residential weekend which takes place in Dublin from 17th to 19th June. After Dublin, both panels must be cut to the pre-requisite 18 players for the Milk Cup proper at the end of July.

2011 Junior Panel (23 players)

Goalkeepers
Brice Campbell, Ballygowan; Shane Campbell, Banbridge; Marc Reid, Newcastle.

Defenders
Callum Byers, Dundonald; Adam Calvert, Newtownards; Michael Edgar, Dundonald; George Gray, Bangor; Cameron Murray, Belfast; Matthew Stevenson, Banbridge; Matthew Walker, Ballynahinch.

Midfielders
Ashley Lowry, Waringstown; Nathan McAleese, Castlewellan; Eoghan McCawl, Annacloy; James Milligan, Moneyreagh; Joshua Norton, Moira; Nicholas Turkington, Carryduff; Jack Uprichard, Bangor; Nathan Warnock, Belfast.

Forwards
Josh Doherty, Newtownards; Jordan Lucas, Bangor; Dale Patton, Dundonald; Adam Salley, Banbridge; Ruari Sharvin, Killough.

The Juniors, who have twice reached the semi-finals in the last five years, start the tournament with a clash against Dundalk SBL. Israeli side Hapoel Haifa provide the opposition on Tuesday, July 26. Paul Ritchie’s side then come face-to-face with Watford.

2011 Premier Panel (23 players)

Goalkeepers
Carter Dawson, Bangor; Jacob Halliday, Belfast; James McConville, Gilford.

Defenders
Michael Busby, Newtownards; Lee Chapman, Belfast; Philip Egerton, Belfast; Daryl Evans, Belfast; Johnny Kane, Belfast; Steven McCullough, Belfast; Joe McKinney, Crossgar;

Midfielders
Mark Armstrong, Cloughey; Stephen Cockcroft, Bangor; Ryan Craig, Belfast; Simon Hanna, Comber; Thomas Healey, Downpatrick; Ross Kelso, Ballywalter; Matthew Kerr, Belfast; Timmy Lai, Belfast; Stuart Muldrew, Killinchy.

Forwards
Assistance Makhathini, Belfast; Ryan McCready, Newtownards; Andrew Mitchell, Waringstown, Aaron Sills, Belfast.

The Premier squad kick-off the tournament on Monday, July 25 with a tie against Dublin side Cherry Orchard. Down face Norwegian debutants Vestmar L.E the following day, before coming face-to-face with reigning champions Etoile Lusitana from Senegal – conquerors of Bolton Wanderers in last year’s final, on Wednesday, July 27. The tournament kicks-off with the traditional opening parade around Coleraine on Sunday, July 24. Matches run from July 25-30.

Saturday 4th June 2011 – Parents Evening a huge success

The County Down Milk Cup Parents Evening took place in a packed Ballynahinch Leisure Centre last week. PRO Barry Greene was joined by two special guests who spoke in depth to the players and parents. Oldham Athletic winger Philip McGrath – a Dunluce Trophy winner with County Down in 2007 – returned to give an insight into his life as a professional footballer. Ian Young of MYFitness – who played in the first ever County Down side in 1992 – outlined the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle in order to stay in peak condition. Philip and Ian were presented with specially engraved ‘ County Down ’ tankers by David Taylor and Paul Ritchie.

Sunday 29th May 2011 – Premier team to take on 2010 champions


County Down representatives Ronnie Cromie and Paul Ritchie join players Thomas Healey and Ryan Craig to help former NI international Gerry Armstrong and Milk Cup Chairman Victor Leonard with the draw for the 2011 tournament.

Senegalese kingpins Etoile Lusitana who lifted the 2010 Premier Milk Cup title, will have to get past County Down in their quest to defend their title at this year’s competition. Former Northern Ireland international Gerry Armstrong was on hand to make the draw at W5 at the Odyssey in Belfast this week.

It is a tough task for our boys who kick-off the tournament on Monday, July 25 with a tie against Dublin side Cherry Orchard, who list Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane as their most notable past player. Down face Norwegian debutants Vestmar L.E the following day, before coming face-to-face with reigning Etoile – conquerors of Bolton Wanderers in last year’s final, on Wednesday, July 27.

Manager John Bailie is looking forward to his players pitting their wits against the best. “It’s just about the toughest, most challenging draw that we could have hoped for. That’s precisely what the competition is all about. This gives our guys the perfect chance to test themselves against the best young players in the game.”

The Junior’s, who have twice reached the semi-finals in the last five years, start the tournament with a clash against Dundalk SBL. Israeli side Hapoel Haifa provide the opposition on Tuesday, July 26. Paul Ritchie’s side then come face-to-face with Watford.

In spite of three tough games, Ritchie is determined to make his mark on his managerial return following a two-year absence. “There are no easy games at the Milk Cup. If we prepare properly over the next couple of months, and start the competition with a win, anything is possible.”

The tournament kicks-off with the traditional opening parade around Coleraine on Sunday, July 24.

Junior fixtures
Mon, 25 July – Co.Down v Dundalk SBL
Tue, 26 July – Co.Down v Hapoel Haifa
Wed, 27 July – Co.Down v Watford

Premier fixtures
Mon, 25 July – Co.Down v Cherry Orchard
Tue, 26 July – Co.Down v Vestmar L.E
Wed, 27 July – Co.Down v Etoile Lusitana

Thursday 31st March 2011 – Trial reminder

There will be a South Down Junior trial on Sunday (3 April), 1pm at Crystal Park Banbridge.

Also on Sunday at Kilmore Playing Fields in Crossgar – there will be an East Down Junior trial at 2pm.

Players should bring their own kit and boots for grass and 3G in both instances.

Sunday 20th March 2011 – County Down duo visit respite centre to handover donation

County Down Milk Cup representatives Bobbie Reid and Barry Greene recently visited the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children (NICFC) centre at Shimna to hand over a donation to support the invaluable work taking place there.


County Down Milk Cup Chairman Bobbie Reid and PRO Barry Greene present Peter Topping with a donation for the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children respite centre at Shimna in Newcastle, Co.Down

Nestled at the foot of the Mourne Mountains in Newcastle, County Down, Shimna Valley Village is a place specially created to nurture and sustain families coping with the everyday demands of nursing a child diagnosed with cancer.

At Shimna, children, young people and families spend time together. There are lots of things for the families to do during a stay at Shimna both indoors and outdoors.
Barry Greene said that it was important for County Down to maintain the link with NICFC that was started last year. “We are again delighted to be able to provide assistance for this incredible facility, set in the idyllic surroundings of the Mourne Mountains. The house and adjacent log cabin provide those coping with cancer with a place to be together as a family, away from hospitals and clinics.”

If you would like further information on Shimna Valley Village, please contact Patricia Kidd on:

Tel – 028 4372 4212
Email – shimnavalley@nicfc.com
Web – www.nicfc.com

Wednesday 9th March 2011 – Ritchie back at the helm for Juniors with trials due to start

Paul Ritchie has been appointed Junior manager ahead of the 2011 Milk Cup. Ritchie, who was previously in charge over a four year period from 2004 to 2008, will again be assisted by coach Kyle Spiers. The pair, who led our Under 15 side to a 3rd place finish behind Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers three years ago, take over from John Bailie who was recently promoted to Premier manager.


Paul Ritchie and Kyle Spiers pictured with Sir Alex Ferguson at a previous Milk Cup event.

“It’s a privilege and a pleasure to be back in charge of the Junior squad,” said Ritchie. “I hope to continue the sterling work that has gone on before by everyone connected with County Down. The competition is not an easy one to win and county sides are at a distinct disadvantage bearing in mind we only have the squad for approximately eight weeks prior to the tournament.”

The returning duo’s main aim will be to source the very best players in County Down to represent the county in what Ritchie sees as “a junior World Cup.”

“To play against teams from all over the world will be a great experience for the boys and with the right attitude and commitment, we should have another successful tournament,” he added.

Trials for the Junior squad are set to get underway over the next week. To qualify, boys must have been born on or after 1 January 1996. Furthermore, parents or guardians of players must currently live at an address in County Down. If you are a coach or parent and you know of a player who has the ability to represent County Down at the world-renowned Milk Cup tournament, which will take place from 24 to 29 July 2011, be sure to contact the respective trial co-ordinator immediately with details of name, date of birth, address of parent/s, contact number, position played and club/school.

To facilitate training in the run-up to the competition – the management team prefer that no holidays are taken by players from June until the Milk Cup ends.

Trials will be split into three Zones:

North Down
This area covers all of Belfast, south of the Lagan and the Ards Peninsula including Bangor & Holywood.
Trial co-ordinator is Jason (07598946035).

South Down
This area takes in Newry, Warrenpoint, Kilkeel, Banbridge, Rathfriland and Dromara.
Trial co-ordinator is Linda McAdam (call or text 07814 127573).

East Down
East Down covers the Annahilt, Ballynahinch, Carryduff, Downpatrick, Newcastle area and takes in Killyleagh and Comber.

Trial co-ordinators are Ronnie Cromie (07788 441342) and Barry Greene ( ).

Wednesday 23rd February 2011 – New Premier manager in early call for County Down Milk Cup stars

The County Down Milk Cup Premier squad has a new manager. John Bailie – who has been in charge of our Junior team since 2009 – replaces Donald Malomo-Paris who has been forced to step down due to work commitments.

Bailie, who also manages Northern Amateur Premier Division side Comber Rec, is relishing the challenge. “Having been the Junior manager over the last two years, I have been able to watch most of the Premier games. Many of the boys who gave a good account of themselves two years ago at under-15 level, will now come into the reckoning for the 2011 competition.”

He went on to pay tribute to the sterling efforts of the previous manager – Donald Malomo-Paris. “Donald deserves a lot of credit for what he has achieved over the last few years in ensuring that his squads were very well organised and competitive, achieving a number of notable results in the process. I aim to continue his good work and to have a squad of players determined to do County Down proud once again.”

The new man at the helm of the Premier team wasted no time in getting the process of picking the finest players for the 2011 Northern Ireland Milk Cup underway.

“I hope to have a preliminary squad of thirty players in place by the end of March. The boys will have training sessions during April. Following this, a final trial match will take place in May to select 23 players for the provisional squad that will go to a pre-tournament weekend in Dublin,” Bailie added.

If you are a coach or parent and you know of an under-17 player who has the ability to represent County Down at the world-renowned Milk Cup tournament, which takes place from 24 July to 29 July 2011, make sure to contact one of the trial co-ordinators with details of name, date of birth, contact number, position played and club/school.

To be eligible for the County Down Premier squad, players must be born on or after 1 January 1994. Furthermore, parents or guardians of players must currently live at an address in County Down.

Trials will be split into three Zones as follows:

North Down
This area covers the whole of Belfast, south of the Lagan and the Ards Peninsula including Bangor & Holywood.
Trial co-ordinator is Peter Cooling (07723 363302).

South Down
This area takes in Newry, Warrenpoint, Kilkeel, Banbridge, Rathfriland and Dromara.
Trial co-ordinators are Peter Houston (07867 767787) and Damian McCorry (07740 909603).

East Down
East Down covers the Annahilt, Ballynahinch, Carryduff, Downpatrick, Newcastle area and takes in Killyleagh and Comber.
Trial co-ordinator is Frank McClean (07541 255184).

Once the Zones have selected their respective panels they will play off against each other in front of the management team for the selection of the training squad of 30 players.

Selection for the Junior (under-15) team will remain as it was, meaning trials will begin at Easter. Details for these trials and the new Junior managerial appointment will be published in the coming weeks.