Category Archives: Latest News

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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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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Good morning Monday!

Good morning Monday! We play the first of our matches today as the 2018 SuperCupNI gets going. Here’s how our day looks.

Before breakfast staff will collect the four mini buses that will take our teams about this week. The Premier team will train in Anderson Park in the morning while the Juniors relax ahead of playing Charlton Athletic (Riada 2, 1.30pm).

We’ll all eat together at 4pm before the Premier team set off to play Newcastle United at Ballymena Showgrounds at 7.00pm.

Then there’s the promise of pizza for dinner at day’s end.

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‘This is where it gets real’ – McAlister

Gary McAlister takes the helm as Junior team manager at the SuperCupNI for the first time on Monday knowing that his team will be in for the challenge of their lives.

The junior boys have matches against Charlton Athletic, Cherry Orchard and Global Premier Soccer to contend with in the opening three days and Gary has made sure his player know the level of oppositions they’ll be facing

“It’s important that the players realise that we are probably underdogs in most of our games and that the effort has to be put in by everyone. We’ve had eight weeks to prepare for the tournament, while the teams we’ll be playing have been together as a group for years, and train maybe three times a week. They’ll also be technically better.

“There’s things we can be responsible for though like our work rate and effort and determination. I know that with the squad we have that there’s a lot of versatility which gives us options to change the game where we see fit.”

With all of the preparations now behind them, players’ minds will need to be focused from day one, something that Gary is all too aware of himself. “This is where it starts to get real for everybody,” he says, “All through the training we put everything else to the back of our minds, but arriving in Coleraine and seeing everyone unpacking their stuff and seeing all the other teams come together, you realise that now is the time that we have to put into practice everything we’ve worked on.

“They’ll be a few nerves from the players of course, which is no bad thing as it shows that they care. They’ll see at the opening parade, the interest there is in them from the crowds of people who come out to watch. I hope that we can go out this week and show the spectators exactly what we’re capable of.”

This year Gary has made the move from Premier coach to Junior manager and with him has come an entirely new backroom team, but one that he says has stepped up fully to the challenge.

“I’ve a lot of experience managing at club level, so this isn’t completely new to me. But there is a different dynamic with the county. Effectively I’m managing nine different teams’ players and we’re always so grateful for the support and understanding we get from the clubs.

“It really tests the staff and the coaches ability to be able to mould a team in such a short space of time. It’s been a great challenge for us and something that I’ve really enjoyed and this week will show how far we’ve come with the results and how we play. We feel that we’ve prepared well for the tournament and we hope that we can go out and show that this week.

“Like any year, the preparations always have their ups and down. I remember at the first trial, wondering if we’d be able to pull together a squad good enough to compete in the tournament. But as the process goes on, the talent starts to shine through and when it comes to making our squad decisions it’s difficult because we’d identified 25 or so players who could justify being picked.

“When training starts, the first few weeks are always tough as the players are coming into a new environment. But everybody worked very hard, we had some worthwhile games and everyone got settled in. There were lessons learned along the way, such as the defeat to St Kevin’s in Dublin, which was good for showing the players the level that they had to aspire to.

“Because of that we’re coming into the tournament now with a belief that we could cause an upset.”

Tournament football comes and goes very quickly and with Gary’s past experience of the SuperCup, he knows that’s switching on from the start is key. “It could be said that Monday could make or break your week. Getting a result on the first day could maybe give you an indication of how the week is going to pan out. But win or lose, it’s important that the players realise that we’ll be here until Friday. When each new day starts, that’s the only game that matters – the players need to understand that it’s important to apply themselves each day.

“A lot of the players won’t be used to playing in an environment where we have a referee and two linesmen. There’s higher level of discipline required from the players, which can be challenging to adapt to at times. Luck will be big factor in every game; whether you get the rub of the green or not or when penalties are given or not. That kind of thing is important and dropped points make a lot of difference in a tournament.”

AS his players get ready to take the field Gary sends them out with this message: “We know the level of player that we’ll be playing against are going to be super confident on the ball, they’ll move it about quickly and will be very well structured and disciplined. There’ll be cultural differences too in terms of style and tactics and how those teams manage the game.

“But we want to go out and show that we’re not just in this competition because we’re the country hosting it. We have our own identity and our own style of play too and that’s something I’ve been trying to get across to the players that we want them to play the way we want and to not to be afraid to mix it up and try to bridge the physical gap.”

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Back in the place he loves

John Bailie

John Bailie can’t say enough about this time of year, when he gets back to the north coast and the SuperCupNI gets underway.

John is back again, managing the Premier team and he says it’s a real privilege to be coaching the best kids from his local area. “There’s a whole buzz about this whole tournament. I get to work with elite kids, some of the best kids in Norther Ireland at their age group. We’ve have an eight week period with them and they’re all so keen, they all want to be there. They’re all still full of that youthful enthusiasm.

“When we get to Coleraine, there are so many memories to be made and experiences to have. We’re trying to provide a platform for these kids to go on to bigger things and the boys will always remember their experience here.”

It’s been a relatively short time since the first county trials were held back in April through to the tournament kicking off on Monday. John says the time he’s spent with his squad has been productive. “The preparations have gone well for us. Last year we had about ten kids with us who were a year young, so that gave me a good insight into this year’s crop.

“We always had the hope that they were going to develop and progress from last year’s tournament to this one. Thankfully eight or nine of them have and I’ve brought them back again this time around.

“Because of that we always knew that we’d be bringing a squad that had a bit of experience about them, knew the regime and hopefully we can get some dividends from that.”

Selecting 18 players and turning them into a team comes with its challenges of course and it’s a well-trodden path that John has experienced plenty of times before. “You’ll always learn things about the players as the training progresses,” he says, “I have to pick a squad of 18 and it’s inevitable that there’ll be a couple who don’t respond right and I might start having second thoughts about. As coaches we get some right and some wrong.

“When you watch a player at a trial, sometimes you’re not seeing the whole player, the inner player, and it’s only over the six weeks of training that you get to see who reacts the right way or whose head can drop easily.”

The tournament opens up for the Premier team with a marquee match against Newcastle United before the boys face Ichifuna of Japan and Chilean side Iquique. With such a mixture of teams competing at the SuperCup, John knows it’s tough to fully prepare, but he’ll draw on past experiences.

“We don’t know much about the players we’ll be facing, but I’ll expect the teams to be strong and physical and be technically good. We’ve played Japanese teams before and teams from Chile and England before and while those teams will all be different, I’d expect there to be a similar style between teams from the same country.  So in that respect our game plan won’t really change. We’ll prepare as best as we can, knowing that we might well be up against teams that are technically better than us.”

When the games get underway the action comes thick and fast and John will be letting his boys know that it’s crucial to have the right mind-set from the start: “Monday is always massive. In tournament football, you have three games to get out of the group and if you want to do well then winning the first game is huge.

“The joys of the SuperCup is that the first three days give you a platform to go out and play and see where it puts you. Obviously we’ll want to do as well as we can and play in as high a competition as possible in the later part of the week.

“The boys need to be very aware of time. They arrive on Sunday but it’ll be Friday before they know it. They need to tune in early.

“The under 17s group that I have has a different dynamic to the younger kids. A lot of the best players have been snapped up by professional clubs by this age, so it’s important that these boys understand that this is one of their last chances to get noticed.

“There’ll be scouts from other clubs here looking at players and it’s important that they boys realise that there won’t be four or five years of more chances to impress. Having the right attitude is so important – they’ll be ones who push on, sometime even over the more talented kids.”

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Our week starts here…

Good afternoon from The Lodge Hotel, Coleraine, our team base for the week.

Our staff have arrived and are getting things ready before the 36 boys arrive at 3.30pm.

The rest of the day will see us get settled into our rooms, get together for dinner and then depart for the parade and opening ceremony at 6.15pm. The parade starts at 7pm.

Then it’ll be early to bed (!) to get a good rest ahead of the first matches tomorrow. If you’re on the north coast to support us, we hope to see you during the week.

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Thanks to our main sponsors

As we depart for this year’s tournament we want to say a huge thanks to our principal sponsors Decathlon UK.

We have received such fantastic support from Decathlon since our partnership began just a few months ago. As well as providing financial assistance as shirt sponsor for both the junior and premier sides, Richard and the team at Holywood Exchange have helped out with kit printing services as well as training essentials for our boys.

It’s only with the help of locally based firms such as Decathlon that we can lay on a first class experience for our kids during the Super Cup NI tournament week.

Please show your support for our sponsors by calling by and seeing the range of sports wear and equipment they have in store.

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Your tournament guide

The draw for the 2018 SuperCupNI was made in late May. Both Premier and Junior teams will play one match each day, between Monday and Friday. The first three matches for each team are already known, with the opponents for Thursday and Friday being determined later.

Each competition has 20 teams taking part, spread over five groups with four teams in each. The matches between Monday and Wednesday are qualifying matches, with three points being awarded for a win and one point for a draw. On Wednesday after the three qualifying games have been completed, each team will move forward to the semi-finals of five different competitions.

SuperCupNI: The four best first placed teams in the groups

SCNI Globe: The remaining first placed team and the three best second placed teams in the groups

SCNI Vase: The remaining two second placed teams and the two best placed third placed teams in the groups

SCNI Bowl: The remaining three third best placed teams and the best fourth placed team in the groups

SCNI Salver:  The remaining four fourth placed teams in the groups

Each final and 3rd/4th place play off game will take place on Friday.


Junior team

Monday 23rd July – Down v Charlton Athletic (1.30pm, Riada 2, Ballymoney)
Tuesday 24th July – Down v Cherry Orchard (1.30pm, Parker Avenue, Portrush)
Wednesday 25th July – Down v Global Premier Soccer (3.00pm, Clough)

Premier team

Monday 23rd July – Down v Newcastle United (7.30pm, Ballymena Showgrounds)
Tuesday 24th July – Down v Ichifuna (5.00pm, Parker Avenue, Portrush)
Wednesday 25th July – Down v Desportes Iquique (5.00pm, Broughshane)


All participating teams will take part in the traditional parade and opening ceremony on Sunday 22nd July. The parade will start from The Diamond in Coleraine at 6.30pm and make its way to The Showgrounds for the official opening which is being carried out by Gerry Armstrong.


Admission to games at Coleraine Showgrounds, Ballymena Showgrounds, Seahaven (Portstewart), Riada Stadium (Ballymoney) and Scroggy Road (Limavady) is : Adults £7 and Youths (under 16) £4.

Admission to games at Anderson Park (Coleraine) and Broughshane is Adults £4 and Youths (under 16) £2.

Games at Portrush, Castlerock, The Warren (Portstewart), Clough, and Riada 2 (Ballymoney) have no admission charge and are free to watch games.

Finals Night is Friday 27th July
Admission to the finals at Ballymena Showgrounds is Adults £10 and Youths (under 16) £5


BBC Sport NI have announced that they will be streaming 16 live matches each day via their website and the BBC Sport app, as well as producing online highlights packages for other games.

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Introducing Premier captain Dylan Stewart

We are delighted to announce that 17 year old goalkeeper Dylan Stewart will captain this year’s Premier team at the Super Cup NI.
The Cliftonville Football Club stopper hails from Banbridge and he will be making his second appearance at the famous competition.
He recalls: “I went the tournament two years ago when Davy Bryson picked me for the junior team. We did well but maybe could have done better. Last year I wasn’t picked but when this year came around I thought ‘why not?’, so I gave it a go and here I am captain of the team and raring to go!
“It’s a real honour,” Dylan continued, “When John [Bailie] said that he wanted me to be captain it felt great to be selected. The opening three games are going to be tough and the first match against Newcastle will be the toughest but hopefully as captain I’ll be able to get the boys ready to rock and we’ll see how things go in a week’s time.
“Training has been great. It’s been very well organised, with a lot of fitness work and other sessions to get us prepared both mentally and physically. Working with all the coaches and particularly with Carter [Dawson] the goalkeeper coach has been amazing. Coming in each night we’ve all been learning new things and everyone has been impressing.
“The first game I expect is going to be the best experience. It’s the one we’ll want to win to get everybody settled and hopefully set us up for the rest of the week.”
His manager John Bailie was full of praise for the young keeper’s style. He says, “Dylan is a great character; he’s very vocal and commands respect from the rest of the boys. From our sessions and the games so far it’s been very clear to see that. He leads people and hopefully that’s something he does right through the SuperCup.
“From the short time we’ve had the team together this year I’ve built up a level of trust with Dylan – he’s someone I could call for a bit of insight and I know I’ll get an honest answer from him. He’s upfront, calls a spade a spade and I believe he has the character to be a captain so we’ll see now how he responds to being given the responsibility.”
The Premier team vice captains are Jake Corbett and Ruari O’Hare.
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