Young players taking part in one of Europe's top international youth football tournaments were left terrified after they were targeted in a shameful drink-fuelled sectarian attack.
Yobs hurled abuse and threw missiles at the two Dublin-based teams taking part in the Milk Cup before they threatened to burn them out and threatened to kneecap tournament staff.
Crumlin United and Cherry Orchard players bravely returned to the playing field last night after they were moved from the accommodation on the north coast where they came under attack.
Tournament spokesman Jim Sandford said the behaviour of those who threatened the young players was disgraceful and said he had never witnessed such behaviour in more than a quarter of a century of Milk Cup action.
He said a crowd of young people gathered at Cromore Court in Coleraine — where the Crumlin United and Cherry Orchard teams were staying — shortly before 10pm on Monday night and began shouting abuse at players, some of whom were as young as 14.
“The abuse then developed into sectarian remarks and they then threatened they would be back later to burn them out,” Mr Sandford said.
“Our staff then went down and when they got there the yobs started squaring up to them and our staff were threatened with kneecapping.
“We waited for the police then as soon as the sirens began getting closer, the yobs took off.
“We tried to reassure the teams but then 20 minutes later a few of the guys came back and started throwing stones at the house.
“We have gone through difficult times here over the last 26 years and in all those 26 years of the cup, we have never seen anything like this.”
Paul Hammond from Crumlin United said sectarian remarks were shouted.
“There were bottles, cans of beer, bricks and all sorts coming over towards the kids. The kids were terrified. Some of them are 14, others are 15,” he said.
Both teams were back in action last night after their matches were rescheduled from earlier in the day.
A PSNI spokesman said they had received a report of a disturbance at Cromore Court in Coleraine shortly before 10:30pm on Monday. A 19-year-old man who had been arrested was last night released on bail pending inquiries.