Belfast Telegraph

Erneman Kieran Coleraine bound with Red Devils next generation

By Robert Jones

Stand by to be impressed when Manchester United’s latest batch of rising stars roll out at Coleraine Showgrounds in today’s SuperCupNI curtain raiser against Northern Ireland U18s (5.00pm).

The Old Trafford youngsters could give Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich a run for their money, according to United’s under-18s coach, Fermanagh man Kieran McKenna.

The Reds enjoyed an entertaining first season under the former Tottenham youth coach, who brings them to help launch the 35th SuperCupNI this weekend.

McKenna and his young stars are just back from a training camp in Austria, and expected to be among his squad is Glengormley teenager Ethan Galbraith who has happy memories of playing at Ballycastle Road.

One of United’s new faces, midfielder Galbraith, formerly at Linfield, picked up a winners’ medal playing for Northern Ireland — ironically against Manchester United — in the Under-13 final in 2014 when the local lads ran out 5-1 winners.

With McKenna at the helm now, the Under-18s scored at least three goals on 12 separate occasions on their way to a fourth-place league finish last season, and senior manager Jose Mourinho clearly took notice.

As well as giving Angel Gomes his first team debut, the Portuguese boss included Zak Dearnley in his matchday squad for the final league game of the season against Crystal Palace.

Northern Ireland coach Stephen Frail has selected many locally-based players for the match.

Earlier, the 35th anniversary event kicks off at Ballymena Showgrounds when Northern Ireland and Wales Under-19 women’s teams meet in the first of two games at the venue. Kick-off is 2.30pm.

The traditional welcome ceremony and parade of competing teams takes place in Coleraine town centre from 7.00pm tomorrow. Matches in Premier and Junior competitions will be staged throughout the region with finals night at Ballymena Showgrounds on Friday.

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