The golfers may have moved on from Portrush but this morning another international sporting event got underway as thousands of footballers kicked-off the 2019 O’Neill’s Foyle Cup which will see 1,550 matches take place across the North West this week.
A record 424 teams are travelling from all over the world for the tournament which will be played in the Derry City and Strabane District, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough and Donegal County Council areas until Saturday.
While football is the focus, the key highlight is this morning’s huge opening parade which sees an estimated 6,000 participants parade from the Ulster University’s Magee campus to Guildhall Square.
The parade sets off from the Northland Road at 10.30am, making its way down Great James Street before being joined by Oxford Bulls, Sion Sonics and Glentoran who will proudly lead the teams, organisers and supporters along the Strand Road and into Guildhall Square where the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Michaela Boyle, will be waiting to welcome them.
Hundreds of spectators are also expected to line the streets to soak up the atmosphere.
Kevin Morrison, manager of Oxford Bulls, said: “Our lads cannot wait for the tournament this year. It’s now standard practice to arrange summer holidays around the O’Neill’s Foyle Cup week so no-one misses out. They love taking part in the parade and waving to all their fans!”
Kieran Kennedy, Managing Director of O’Neill’s Irish International Sports Company Ltd, the title sponsors, said the excitement was palpable for all those involved in this year’s internationally renowned tournament which attracts local and visiting teams from across Europe, the US and Canada.
“The opening parade is a high point of the O’Neill’s Foyle Cup when all the competitors get together to share their love of sport and enjoy the camaraderie that comes from an event of this standing.
“It is a fantastic spectacle to see all the clubs in their team colours winding their way from the university down to the Guildhall, passing directly outside the O’Neill’s superstore on their way into Guildhall Square. The atmosphere is absolutely incredible and we are proud to play our part again this year in an event the people of Derry City and Strabane District and, the wider North West region can celebrate with us.”
Following the parade, participating teams, coaches, referees and organisers will be very much focusing on their matches as they have a full schedule of fixtures that afternoon.
Later that evening, the Mayor will host a reception for representatives of all the teams taking part in the splendid surroundings of the Guildhall.
The O’Neill’s Foyle Cup is sponsored by Irish sportswear giants O’Neill’s, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Department for Communities, The Executive Office, Tourism NI, Seagate, Inner City Trust, Ulster University, Brunswick Moviebowl and Derry Credit Union.
Team entries and fixtures are available at: www.foylecup.com