Northern Ireland's dreams of lifting the Centenary Shield were crushed on Friday night, as they lost an eight goal thriller to England in Comber.
The Under 18 Schoolboys went into the game with an unbeaten record and high hopes of causing an upset, but they lost 5-3 to their English counterparts at Parkway.
Reflecting on the game, joint manager Conor Marlin said: “Obviously it was disappointing to let in five goals and lose the game but the coaching staff are very proud of the boys.
“They worked hard throughout the game and scored three good goals. England have a much larger pool of players to pick from, so for us to give them such a good game is impressive on our part.
“The important thing is the players learn from the experience. Our aim is to try and develop these young lads for the future, and you can see the progress they have made even in the last few weeks.”
Things started well for the home side, who took the lead in the 10th minute when Gavin Whyte drilled the ball home from the edge of the box.
But unfortunately for the Ulstermen Dean Briggs equalised two minutes later and before the interval Andrew White scored a brace of penalties to give England a 3-1 lead.
The away side continued their dominance in the second half, with Adam Curry increasing their lead with a penalty box header.
Northern Ireland refused to give in and with 12 minutes left on the clock, Curtis Dempster pulled a goal back from the spot to give the home fans some hope.
However, Mark Onyemah made it 5-2 in the 82nd minute to put the result beyond doubt. Northern Ireland's Corey McMullan scored a late consolation goal, but it wasn't enough to stop England from claiming the points.
Joint Manager Frankie Wilson said: “The boys have done really well in this season's tournament and hopefully they will put in another good display against Wales next week. It would be great to see a few Northern Ireland fans get down to Knockbreda and cheer us on.”
Northern Ireland's Under 18 Schoolboys' will face Wales in the final game of the tournament at Knockbreda on Wednesday April 16 (3pm).
On Saturday night at Shamrock Park in Portadown, Northern Ireland's woman's side lost 4-0 to Sweden in a World Cup Qualifier. Kosovare Asllani, Lotta Schelin, Emma Lundh and Lina Nilsson were all on the score sheet for the unbeaten visitors.