2007 Tournament

County Down Milk Cup Week 2007

Both County sides found themselves in the Dunluce Trophy after the group stages with both Junior and Premier teams losing one game and drawing one game.

Junior Team win Dunluce Trophy while Premier Team fall at the final hurdle in the same competition.

County Down Junior captain Aaron Burns wins Bertie Peacock Award for the CountyPlayer of the Tournament.

The Junior Team kicked off against Maccabi Haifa on the Monday and gave the 2004 winners a stern test before losing to the only goal of the game scored after 20 minutes. Down had a couple of early chances from crosses supplied by Matthew McFerran with John Sloan and Ben Stanex coming close. The second half was dominated by the Down team led by captain Aaron Burns, who was chosen as man of the match, but they couldn’t break the Israeli rearguard.

The second game saw the Down Junior team break their duck in the Tournament with a headed goal by Burns from an excellent cross from Conor McCloskey. However the Team from Argentina, Athletico Medea, equalised within 40 seconds of the restart and took the lead 3 minutes later despite Down having more of the play. Right on full time Down equalised when Matthew McBride forced the ball over the line after hitting the crossbar to give Down a deserved draw.

This brought the Down Juniors up against BK Callies from South Africa which was an interesting game with the two different styles of football. The more physically strong Down side dominated play and missed a penalty on 25 minutes. However Ben Stanex made amends 2 minutes later for his penalty miss when he pounced on a poor goal kick to slot home the only goal of the game. County Down were well on top in the second half but couldn’t add to their second goal.

In the semi final Down came up against a strong Derry side who pushed them all the way to penalty kicks which Down won 5-3 in an exciting shootout.

This then set the County Juniors up against Lyngby Boldclub from Denmark in the final of the Dunluce Trophy.

Down took the lead after a great run down the left by Matthew McFerran who left two players in his wake and scored from an acute angle.

Half time came with no further score and with the Down defence on top.

Down had the chance to go two up when John Sloane hit the upright after a great run from midfield, Lyngby then went up the field and scored from a needless free.

Down bounced straight back with a goal from a great free kick on the half wayline by Aaron Burns and then went 3-1 up through Ben Stanex but conceded a 2nd with minutes left on the clock. The final whistle brought Down their first trophy.

The celebrations after the game were further heightened when it was announced that Aaron Burns from Banbridge, the County captain, had been awarded the Bertie Peacock Bursary for the best County Junior player of the Tournament.

Aaron follows his namesake, Aaron Boyd, who won the bursary in 2006. Aaron will be looking forward to a weeks coaching at Manchester United and Feyenoord.

The Premier Team kicked off against Austrian opposition, Rapid Vienna, and in an exciting game took the lead on 25 minutes when Jarlath Branagan scored from a Kevin Coyle cross. The Austrians equalised on 33 minutes when Down didn’t deal with a right wing centre and their midfielder side footed home despite the attentions of Philip Bonny, Down’s captain. The second half was a cagey affair with Down shading the play but in the end had to settle for a share of the spoils.

Tuesday saw the big game against a very strong Manchester United in front of a 3000 crowd at the Coleraine Showgrounds. United took the game to Down and despite an excellent back four showing from David Gibson, Philip Bonny, Shannon Drainey and Aaron Buchanan, United powered into a two goal half time lead. Manager Damian McCorry changed things in the second half and only a highly disputed penalty in the dying minutes gave United the deserved victory by 3-0.

This brought Down into the Dunluce Trophy against Londonderry and what a game this turned out with two evenly matched teams fighting for every ball. Down took the lead with a Michael Hunter penalty after 10 minutes, a lead they held until 5 minutes from the end when Derry equalised with a well taken goal. Straight to penalties, where Graham McKibben was Down’s hero saving 2 of Derry’s spot kicks to put Down into the semis where they met County Tyrone.

This game was Down’s best performance of the week where Philip Bonny played a true captains role by powering his way through the Tyrone defence after 10 minutes to put Down ahead. However a late tackle after 20 minutes put paid to Philip’s tournament as he was carried off with a bad ankle injury. This setback spurred Down on and they ended the half well on top. 15 minutes into the second half Michael Hunter headed home a Kevin Coyle cross to put Down two up and despite Tyrone pulling a goal back Eoin Boyle from Downpatrick scored two great goals in the last 5 minutes to give Down an emphatic 4-1 win.

And so to the final of the Dunluce Trophy on Friday against County Antrim where Down had 4 of the panel out through injury. Two very tired teams tried to serve up football fit for a final but by half time it was clear that one goal would win it. The goal was scored by a Down player – but at the wrong end – with 10 minutes remaining. Antrim were then awarded a dubious penalty right on time to win 2-0 and continue their winning run against Down.

At the County presentations held in the Lodge Hotel after both Friday games the players were all presented with their County medals.

Aaron Burns was selected by the players as the Junior County player

Michael Hunter was selected by the Premier players as the Premier player of the Tournament

Philip Bonny was selected by the management team as the most sporting player and was presented with the Jim McCloskey trophy by Jim McCloskey junior in memory of his father who was the first County Manager 15 years ago.

Baseball caps were presented to the County Chairman, Bobbie Reid by Mr Stirling, owner of the Village Station Moira whose son, Craig, was a member of the successful Junior Team.

Finally the County Draw was made. The following winners were drawn out:

Ballot winners 2007

LCD tv J Keenan c/o Alan Morton
Lodge weekend D Irvine c/o S McKeague
Dublin weekend Danielle Redmond – Belfast
DVD Recorder Paul Drainey
Signed NI shirt Andy c/o Davy Hanna
Signed NI football Sinead Lowry – Newtownards

23rd July 2007 – Update

The County Down Milk Cup Teams at both Junior and Premier levels are finalising their preparations for this years silver jubilee Tournament which starts with the parade of all the participating teams through the centre of Coleraine from The Diamond to the Coleraine Showgrounds at 7pm on Sunday 29th July.

The previous day, Saturday July 28th will see the official unveiling of the Bertie Peacock statue at The Diamond. Bertie was one of the founding fathers of the Milk Cup which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. He was also a former Celtic and Northern Ireland player and Manager.

Preparations have been hampered by the dreadful weather, with the rain closing pitches. The Premier Team have had games against Linfield, Monaghan and Northern Ireland U-17’s postponed. The Junior Team’s Mourne Cup Tournament which had featured teams from across the border also fell foul of the rain although a 3-1 win against the Tyrone Milk Cup Team has restored some confidence in the panel.

The Junior Team took a trip up to the North West on Saturday 21st to get a feel for the place and also visited Anderson Park and Rugby avenue where they play their first two games.

The Juniors kick off at 1.30pm on Monday 30th July at Anderson Park, Coleraine against previous winners, Maccabi Haifa (2004). This will be a stern test for Paul Ritchie’s charges who lost out in a semi final penalty shoot out to last years winners, Swindon Town. The Down lads will be hoping for a result to take into the second game against Athletico Medea from Argentina who are acclimatising in Ballyhornan, Co Down prior to the Milk Cup. This game is at Rugby Avenue Coleraine on Tuesday 31st July with a 1.30pm ko.

The Premier Team too have been training hard and have had a couple of useful workouts against Glentoran and Newry City U-18’s. Both games have brought the Team up to match fitness with a draw against the young Glens and a well deserved win against Newry.

The Premier Team kick off on Monday 30th July against Rapid Vienna from Austria. The match is at Castlerock with a 3.30pm ko. This team is well known to the County as they defeated Down last year 2-1 in a thrilling game. Manager Damian McCorry is familiar with their style of football and is confident he can reverse the score line this time around.

The second game is the “Match of the Day” at Coleraine Showgrounds on Tuesday 31st July with a 7pm ko. This game will be featured live on BBC2 Digital so if you cannot get up to the Showgrounds to see it, be sure to tune in. The match will be in front of a capacity crowd and the Down boys are looking forward to meeting the cream of the United Academy. The Down management team are not entirely unprepared as Assistant Manager; Gary Hazley, from Banbridge has a DVD of the United Team playing in the Youth Cup. Gary’s son, Matthew is a professional with Stoke City and a past County Down player.


Both Teams checked into the magnificent City North Hotel which looked after both players and parents well.

The time spent off the park is as important as the games – both Teams responded well to the Code of Conduct.

The Junior team kicked off against tournament new comers, St Kevin’s from Santry. The game was played at a tremendous pace on an excellent surface with the Dublin team coming strong in the second half winning three goals to nil. On Saturday Paul Ritchie’s charges played Dublin Schools and again were up against a very strong side losing by two goals to nil.

Sunday morning saw a one all draw played out against the North Dublin Schoolboys league with the Down goal coming from the penalty spot.

Lot’s of positives for the players and with the panel cut to 18 the fitness levels must improve and the shape of the team needs to stabilise before the first match against Macabbi Haifa.

The Premier Team kicked off against Drogheda United who are also making their debut in the Milk Cup. A very close and physical game saw the Down team edge out their opponents with the only goal of the game from Stewart Bickerstaff in the last 10 minutes. Saturday saw the game against the Republic of Ireland U-17’s who had flown in eight cross channel players. A great match was played in great spirit with the Republic scoring two goals in the last 10 minutes to seal the deserved win. Lots of positives for Damian McCorry’s team who’s game against the Northern Ireland U-17’s fell foul of the weather on Thursday.

16th June 2007 – Mourne Cup Wash Out

The heavy rain put paid to the Mourne Cup competition. Both teams now head to Dublin on 22nd June and hope for better weather.

7th June 2007 – Parents Night

The Parents Night was a massive success and in attendance was Stephan Craigan who played in the very first County Down Milk Cup Team in 1992 – who now plays for Motherwell and Northern Ireland. He was guest speaker at the event and is pictured here with County Down Milk Cup PRO Hugh Bonner who is one of only 2 remaining backroom members from that first tournament in 1992, the other being David Taylor of course.

28th May 2007 – Panels Selected

After exhaustive trials throughout the County from Easter, both Managers have selected their panels up to the pre Tournament residential in Dublin at the end of June.

After Dublin both panels must be cut to the pre requisite 18 players for the Milk Cup proper which commences at the end of July.

Junior Panel (23 players)

Dean McGibbon, Belfast; Ryan Slavin, Downpatrick; Jack Duffin, Belfast

Daniel Culbert, Dromore; Matthew Best, Bangor; Bradley Morton, Bangor; John Sloan, Bangor; Aaron Burns, Banbridge; Adam Robinson, Saintfield; Jason McKeague, Bangor; Kurtis Kane, Bangor.

Craig Stirling, Moira; Gareth Matthews, Belfast; Ryan Kirkwood, Belfast; Matthew McBride, Belfast; Emmett Costello, Belfast;

Conor McCluskey, Belfast; Ben Stanex, Belfast; Matthew McFerran, Ballywalter; Kenny Gracey, Dromore; Kyle Mallaghan, Banbridge; Phillip McGrath, Banbridge; Daniel Hanna, Bangor.

Premier Panel (21 players)

Kyle Harris, Dundonald; Graham McKibben, Comber.

Philip Bonny, Newcastle; Aaron Buchanan, Gilford; Shannon Drainey, Gilford; David Gibson, Bangor; Glenn McVea, Dundonald; Ryan O’Hare, Belfast; Barry Thompson, Banbridge.

Aaron Boyd, Newtownards; Jarleth Branagan, Downpatrick; Greg Dixon, Bangor; Michael Hunter, Bangor; Matthew McFall, Bangor; Gary Thompson, Killyleagh; Gavin Walsh, Bangor.

Stewart Bickerstaff, Dromore; Eoin Boyle, Downpatrick; Kevin Coyle, Kircubbin; Tony Tomelty, Newtownards; Chris White, Belfast.

15th May 2007 – Milk Cup Draw

It’s Manchester United for the U-17’s! and Maccabi Haifa for the U-15’s!

The draw for the 25th Milk Cup took place in the Rosspark Hotel, Kells, Ballymena. Neil Warnock, the former Sheffield United Manager made the draw for the Premier Section.

Monday 30th July: County Down v Rapid Vienna (Austria)

Tuesday 31st July: County Down v Manchester United

Jonny Evans, who played for Sunderland this season and who will return to Manchester United next season made the draw for the Junior Section.

Monday 30th July: County Down v Maccabi Haifa (Israel)

Tuesday 31st July: County Down v Athletico Medea (Argentina)

The full draw can be seen at the Milk Cup web page www.nimilkcup.org

Members of the County Down set-up with Jonny Evans of Manchester United & Neil Warnock at the Milk Cup draw.

Premier Team Manager Damian McCorry with former Sheffield United Manager Neil Warnock.

1st May 2007 – Trials and Tribulations

Trials are taking place all over the county for both Junior and Premier panel places. The good weather after Easter has given way to rain and winds but the quality of football remains high and competition for places is intense. Zone games will commence at the middle of the month with the panels to be lodged with the Milk Cup committee at the end of May.

19th April 2007 – New Sponsorship Deal

Mr. Stewart Beattie Sales Manager Isaac Agnew Audi Belfast presenting Co. Down Junior Team Manager Paul Ritchie with Audi polo shirts for this years Milk Cup.

Stephen Craigan (pictured above, far right) who played in the very first County Down Milk Cup Team in 1992 and now plays for Motherwell and Northern Ireland, will be the Special Guest for the Parents Night at Ballynahinch Centre – Thursday 7th June.

Northern Ireland Milk Cup – 25th Anniversary 29th July – 3rd August

This year is a very special one for the Milk Cup as it is the 25th anniversary of the Tournament.

County Down first participated in the Tournament in 1992 with a 16 man panel at U-16. This year players must be born after 1st January 1992 – the 1st year the County was invited to enter the competition, to be eligible to play for the Junior Team and born after 1st January 1990 to be eligible for the Premier Team.

Last years Premier Team at the opening parade

Last years Junior squad at the opening parade

Last years Managers have been selected once again by the County Committee to lead both Junior and Premier Teams. Paul Ritchie will be looking to go one better by emulating last years semi final defeat on penalties and overall fourth place finish in the Junior Section and Damian McCorry will look to achieving the best Irish Team award which he obtained two years ago.

paul ritchie

Junior Team Manager Paul Ritchie

Damian McCorry

Premier Team Manager Damian McCorry

If you feel that you have the skill and attitude to play for your County please contact one of the trial co-ordinators or e-mail us direct at info@downsupercupni.com giving us your name, date of birth, contact number and position played along with your club or school.

County Down 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-ordinators here for the Junior Team (born after 1st January 1992) are Raymond Alexander 07894 614318 or Jeremy Bell 07790 725040 and for the Premier Team (born after 1st January 1990) Courtney McMullan 07791 380321.

South Down
This area covers Newry, Warrenpoint, Kilkeel, Banbridge, Rathfriland & Dromara.

Trial co-ordinators here are for the Junior Team Linda McAdam 07814 127573 and for the Premier Team Damian McCorry 07740 909603

East Down
East Down covers the Downpatrick, Ballynahinch Carryduff and Annahilt areas and takes in Killyleagh and Comber. Trial co-ordinators for the Junior Team are TBA and for the Premier Team Dixie Murray 07747 146191.

Once the Zones have selected their respective panels they will play off against each other in front of the Junior and Premier Management panels.

Key dates for your diary in County Down’s preparation for this years Milk Cup

Thursday 7th June – Parents Night at Ballynahinch Centre. Special Guest for the evening will be Stephen Craigan who played in the very first County Down Milk Cup Team in 1992 and who is now plays for Motherwell and Northern Ireland.
Saturday 16th June – Mourne Cup Tournament (Juniors)
Friday 22nd June – Dublin Pre Tournament Weekend
Sunday 29th July – Milk Cup report date Lodge Hotel
Monday 30th July – Friday 3rd August Milk Cup week