County Tyrone’s hopes of going all the way in this year's Junior Section came to a halt yesterday after a narrow defeat to Chelsea at the Coleraine Showgrounds.
Tyrone, the only county side to make the quarter-finals in this year’s Milk Cup, ran their Premier League opponents right to the wire, eventually losing 1-0.
Reece Mitchell’s blistering pace took him clear of the Tyrone defence in the sixth minute and provided a cool finish for the only goal of the game.
Blues boss Gerry Harvey was pleased to make progress, although admitted there was evidence of fatigue in his boys after their third game in as many days.
“You have to remember these schoolboys only finished their school year on the July 20th, so they’ve been back training for two or three sessions before we came to the Milk Cup,” Harvey revealed.
“I think tiredness came into a bit (against Tyrone), three games in three days is a real test for them.
“However these tournaments are fantastic, you can learn more about the boys in seven days at events like this than you can in seven months of training.
“They are with you 24/7, you see how they conduct themselves in the airport, at a meal and in the exposure they get with the public here. If these boys are going to be football players this is going to be their life and we try to prepare them for all things.
“Above all, this is a great place for us, the facilities are excellent, the people are brilliant and it’s only a short plane journey away.”
Chelsea now go on to meet Dundalk 93 in the semi-finals in Limavady tonight, while Swindon stormed into a semi-final clash with Cruz Azul after hammering Hapoel Beer Sheba 5-0 in their last eight clash.
Connor Waldon got two, while Jake Britton, Matthew Jones and Alexander Bray chipped in with a goal each.
In the Dunluce Trophy, Fermanagh roared into the semi-finals to set-up a clash with John Bailie’s Down boys.
Fermanagh were 5-0 winners over Norwegian outfit FK Vaag in Coleraine, with sharpshooter Kevin Curran the toast of the Erne County after his fine hat-trick, Jason O’Brien and Rory Flynn were also on the scoresheet.
Manager George Elliott admits he would rather have avoided a fellow local side in the last four but remains confident over their chances of making the final.
“I’d rather not be playing a County team to be honest, but you have to take what you get.
“If we play the sort of football we’re capable of playing I feel we’re strong enough to make the final, which would be fantastic.
“We do have a couple of injuries, so we’ll look at that before Thursday’s game and see what changes we need to make.”
Co Armagh suffered the heartbreak of missing out on penalty kicks to Brentford. They drew 2-2 in normal time, Jack McNally with both goals. Antrim suffered a similar fate, losing from the spot against Hapoel Haifa in the Slemish Trophy.
All quarter-finals in the Slemish subsidiary draw ended in draws and were decided from the spot, with Co Londonderry triumphing over Everton.