SuperCupNI Antrim kids prove to be stunning success
Proud boss Seaton salutes his County boys as they end long 28-year wait for NI triumph in the Junior Section
County Antrim ended 28 years of hurt for Northern Ireland teams in the Junior Section of the SuperCupNI by lifting the trophy at the Ballymena Showgrounds.
Two years ago, Andy Hunter's County Antrim became the first local side ever to win the Premier competition. Yesterday, Stefan Seaton's Under-15 team followed in their footsteps with a 2-0 win over American academy side Global Premier Soccer.
A local side last won the Junior trophy in 1989, when Keith Gillespie's Dungannon Swifts overcame Dublin Schools.
Seaton said: "With respect, and I'm not taking away from Dungannon's achievements back then, but the level of competition was not the same.
"Now and in the last few years, that level has gone up massively. Winning this competition can really boost the players and help them move on with their careers.
"It's a massive moment for the players and a huge achievement."
This year's Antrim success is no fluke. They've reached either the Premier or the Junior final in four of the last five years.
Seaton said: "We have been consistent in the last five years. We have been competing for the big one four out of those five years and before that, only one team had done that in 25 years or something like that.
"The Premiers and Juniors have been competing at a really good level consistently.
"We have a really good staff around the players, too. We have some very experienced people who know what it takes to get the most out of players and get them where they need to be.
"After that you need a good pool of players but the most pleasing thing is just how consistent County Antrim have been in the past five years."
Reflecting on the comprehensive 2-0 win over GPS Bayern, Seaton added: "We dominated from start to finish. They were almost ruthless; you'd think they'd been playing together for 25 years or something.
"Some of those lads have only been playing 11-a-side football for maybe five years but they showed real maturity positionally and knowing when to attack.
"They knew when to hold back, too. We were really good. Five games in five days can take its toll but we looked as though we could play for another hour. We are really pleased with the week."
County Antrim had the better of the first half, playing some decent football. However, they were shut out by some stubborn American defending.
Antrim's first clear chance arrived in the 21st minute when Lee Rea curled an effort against the underside of the crossbar, with GPS goalkeeper Alfonso de Vito beaten.
Darren Hyland opened the scoring with a contender for goal of the tournament two minutes before the half-time break. The young left-back hit a stunning 25-yard strike that found the top corner of the net.
David Faulkner almost made it 2-0 to Antrim a minute later when he burst into the box, only to see his low drive athletically saved by the alert Boston-based De Vito.
Antrim scored the second goal of the game 14 minutes into the second half. Barry Crowe played a superb free-kick towards the back post, picking out an unmarked Gerard Storey.
Substitute Storey guided a looping header over De Vito and into the far corner of the net.
Storey's header was enough to seal the SuperCupNI Junior Section for Seaton's Antrim side. The boys, who are all connected with Irish League clubs, barely gave the American side a sniff. The local side married some impressive passing football with a winning mentality that has made the County Antrim set-up so successful in recent years.
County Antrim: McKenna, Simspon, Hyland, Crowe, Hume, Johnston, Wylie, Rea, McKee, Faulkner, Snodden.
Subs: Lennon, Jameson, McKiernan, Donnelly, Storey, Elliott.
GPS Bayern: De Vito, Maina, Meredith, Cubillos, Murray, Rent, Rice, Donovan, Farwell, Malcolm, Sinopoli.
Subs: Hernandez, Wilkes, Lynch, Torres, Gardner, Neptune, Hazim.
SUPERCUPNI FINAL: County Antrim 2 GPS Bayern 0
3RD/4TH PLAY-OFF: Rangers 2 Club NI 2 (5-3 on penalties)
SUPERCUPNI GLOBE FINAL: Manchester United 0 Chivas 5
SUPERCUPNI GLOBE 3RD/4TH PLAY OFF : Armagh 5 Tyrone 0
SUPERCUPNI VASE FINAL: North Dublin SL 0 Sheffield United 2
SUPERCUPNI VASE 3RD/4TH PLAY OFF: Cherry Orchard 2 NC Elite 1
SUPERCUPNI BOWL FINAL: Down 0 Middlesbrough 4
SUPERCUPNI BOWL 3RD/4TH PLAY OFF: Swindon Town 0 Southampton 3
SUPERCUPNI SALVER FINAL: Londonderry 0 Strikers 3
SUPERCUPNI SALVER 3RD/4TH PLAY OFF: Plymouth Argyle 2 Fermanagh 0
SUPERCUPNI SHIELD FINAL: First Choice Soccer 2 Dundalk SL 2 (5-3 on penalties)
SUPERCUPNI SHIELD 3RD/4TH PLAY OFF: M Sports NZ 1 Colina 3
SUPERCUPNI FINAL: Right to Dream ? Club América ?
SUPERCUPNI 3RD/4TH PLAY OFF: Newcastle Utd 0 O'Higgins 2
SUPERCUPNI GLOBE FINAL: Osasco 1 Co Antrim 2
SUPERCUPNI GLOBE 3RD/4TH PLAY OFF: Strikers 3 First Choice Soccer 0
SUPERCUPNI VASE FINAL: Co Fermanagh 1 GPS Bayern 1 (3-4 on penalties)
SUPERCUPNI VASE 3RD/4TH PLAY OFF: Vendee 2 Otago 3
SUPERCUPNI BOWL 2ND GAMES: Co Tyone 1 Komazawa 0; Co Down 2 Co Londonderry 1; Co Armagh 4 Morning Star United 0.