Belfast Telegraph

Thousands assemble to celebrate Foyle Cup's big kick-off

An estimated six thousand young footballers packed into Guildhall Square in Derry-Londonderry as the annual Foyle Cup gets underway across the North West attracting teams from across Europe and North America. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 23.07.19
An estimated six thousand young footballers packed into Guildhall Square in Derry-Londonderry as the annual Foyle Cup gets underway across the North West attracting teams from across Europe and North America. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 23.07.19
One of teh Mascots who joined an estimated six thousand young footballers packed into Guildhall Square in Derry-Londonderry as the annual Foyle Cup gets underway across the North West attracting teams from across Europe and North America. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 23.07.19
An estimated six thousand young footballers packed into Guildhall Square in Derry-Londonderry as the annual Foyle Cup gets underway across the North West attracting teams from across Europe and North America. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 23.07.19
some of an estimated six thousand young footballers packed into Guildhall Square in Derry-Londonderry as the annual Foyle Cup gets underway across the North West attracting teams from across Europe and North America. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 23.07.19
Some of the skills on display that brought gasps from the young footballers of the future at the opening of the annual Foyle Cup. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 23.07.19
Some of the skills on display that brought gasps from the young footballers of the future at the opening of the annual Foyle Cup. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 23.07.19
some of an estimated six thousand young footballers packed into Guildhall Square in Derry-Londonderry as the annual Foyle Cup gets underway across the North West attracting teams from across Europe and North America. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 23.07.19
Some of the skills on display that brought gasps from the young footballers of the future at the opening of the annual Foyle Cup. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 23.07.19
Some of the skills on display that brought gasps from the young footballers of the future at the opening of the annual Foyle Cup. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 23.07.19
The Eglinton Eagles mascot gets the party started as thousands of young footballers packed into Guildhall Square at the start of the annual Foyle Cup. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 23.07.19
Members of Oxford Bulls lead the annual Foyle Cup Parade. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 23.07.19
The annual Foyle Cup Parade. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 23.07.19
Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

The centre of Londonderry became a sea of colour yesterday as one of the north west's biggest annual sporting events was officially launched.

Thousands of young footballers from around the world have gathered for the O'Neill's Foyle Cup, which is now in its 27th year.

A record 424 teams will play 1,550 matches throughout this week in the Derry City and Strabane District and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council areas.

This year's tournament has its highest ever admission, including entrants from nine US and Canadian teams as well as sides from France and Finland.

As more than 6,000 participants, their coaches and families paraded through the city for the opening ceremony and Mayor's reception, Foyle Cup chairman Michael Hutton said he was proud of how the tournament has thrived over nearly three decades.

"There can be no doubt of the respect that the O'Neill's Foyle Cup has gained over the years," he said. "Our economy has been in recession and yet the tournament continues to grow and prosper. This year we have 424 teams competing, which will be our highest entry.

"The entry level in terms of the number of teams competing has doubled in the last four years. This level of interest generates huge spending in the local economy, estimated at in excess of £2m."

The Foyle Cup began in 1992 as a one day, eight-team event and has blossomed into one of the biggest tournaments in the UK.

The likes of Paddy McNair and Paddy McCourt went on to play for Northern Ireland after competing in the competition, while Robbie Keane, James McClean and John O'Shea are among the Republic's Foyle Cup graduates.

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