Saturday afternoon brought the curtain down on yet another successful O’Neills Foyle Cup in what was a Festival of Football played in glorious weather over six days and across three counties.
It was another record-breaking event that saw 424 teams taking part in 1,550 games.
And once again the prestigious competition attracted major teams from across North America, Canada, mainland Europe, England, Scotland and Ireland.
Speaking after the close of yesterday’s tournament, Michael Hutton, founder and Chairman of the Foyle Cup said he was delighted with the success of this year’s tournament and the many records that have, once again, been broken.
‘We keep raising the bar every year and we seem to surpass it with ease," he stated.
“The weather was great, the pitches were great, the supporters were great and massive credit must go to our team of more than 150 referees and hundreds of volunteers. In fact, everyone I’ve spoken to this past week has said this has been the best year ever. This week has given the kids memories that will last a life time. That’s what it is all about.”
The event organiser said more than 135,000 spectators attended what is now unarguably one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in the country and a key event not only for Derry and district but also neighbouring counties Tyrone and Donegal.
Such are the numbers attending it is estimated that the local hospitality sector also got a huge boost having more than 13,000 guests to cater for during the week.
Mr. Hutton was particularly pleased with the geographical spread of the participating teams.
“The calibre of clubs participating this year was outstanding. To see the likes of Wolves, Hibernian, Hearts, Partick Thistle, Dundee United, Barnsley, Sheffield United, Altrincham – to name but a few, as well as teams from France, Finland, Canada and the United States play in venues like Creggan, Lisnagelvin, Wilton Park, Strabane, Donegal and Inishowen was a delight for all. We also increased our entries from Irish league and Airtricity league teams."
Schoolboys Tame Oxford
Donegal Schoolboys claimed the U12 O’Neills Foyle Cup with a clean 2-0 victory over Derry side Oxford United at the Brandywell In Saturday.
After good opening exchanges it was the Schoolboys who had the better chances of the half, most notable being after twenty minutes when Oxford goalkeeper McDermott parried saves from three different players before the ball was cleared.
The second half was only minutes old when Donegal broke on the right. A cross-cum-shot was deflected wide by the keeper only to find the boot of Jack Mawditt who neatly scored from 10 yards.
The same player scored again minutes later with almost a carbon copy to make it 2-0. A well deserved victory for the Donegal Schoolboys with local side Oxford giving a good account of themselves.
United are spot-on against Wolves
English clubs Wolves and Sheffield United contested the U14 O’Neills Foyle Cup final that witnessed the latter throw away a 2-0 half time lead.
Goals from Stafford Clarke, a 25 yard shot that flew past Wolves goalkeeper Suleman Khan. This was added to by first half substitute Kamani Millar who ran on to a pass from the right and slotted in number two.
Both sides had excellent chances throughout the first half but goalkeepers were on hand to thwart any further scores.
A tale of two halves saw Wolves come back early in the second period with Wolves Usman Khan scoring from 15 yards out, slotting the ball wide of the advancing keeper. It was Khan again who levelled proceedings, scoring from a through ball from Agboola.
And so it was penalties deciding the outcome of the U14 2019 O’Neills Foyle Cup and the boot of Leighton Chapman making sure the trophy was on its way back to Bramall Lane.
Maiden City Soccer sunk by late goal
Another great advertisement for Foyle Cup football in the U16 category served up by Partick Thistle and Maiden City Soccer at Brandywell on Saturday saw the local side just pipped at the post by a slick and fast moving Scottish team whose ability to keep possession was a pleasure to watch.
It was Partick who drew first blood. Ryan Todd broke away from his marker before firing home from close range. Partick midfielder Billy Owens was pulling the strings of the Scottish side and his telling passes, link up play saw numerous changes for further scores in the first half but it remained 1-0 at half time.
It was midway through the second period when Maiden City equalised. Their best player on the day, Wayne Hynes collecting the ball on the left, cut in before firing home from six yards.
With ten minutes remaining and City on top, it was against the run of play that Partick got the winner. A bad clearance in defence saw the ball break to Ryan Milne who cooly finished from 10 yards out.
The Derry team had two gilt-edged chances to score in the dying minute but good goalkeeping from Mason McCready saw his team hold on to collect the trophy.
In the other of the day’s finals played at Ardmore, saw Scottish sides Dundee United and Motherwell meet, with Fir Park men securing a 2-0 victory in the U13 final.
Meanwhile on Friday evening, in the U15 section Derry City defeated Finn Harps in the final thanks to Luca Doherty’s second half goal.
While in the U19 category Institute beat Derry City when Tiernan McGuinness' late header won it. Kildrum Tigers lifted the U17 trophy courtesy of Shane Doherty’s winning penalty in the shoot-out win over Letterkenny Rovers.