Final heartache will serve as huge lesson for Down, says Bailie
B Italia broke County Down hearts to win the SuperCupNI Premier Section with two astonishing goals.
Salvatore Kevin Buonavoglia’s stylish finish and Marco Bingo’s outrageous long-range volley settled the game in B Italia’s favour, with John Bailie’s county side unable to stop the classy youngsters from winning the prestigious tournament.
B Italia is a select team made up of young players who are contracted to clubs outside of Serie A.
Disappointed Down manager Bailie said: “I’m very proud of the boys and what they have achieved this week.
“The only disappointment for me was that we didn’t show people what we are capable of in the final. You can make excuses and say we were tired but it was the same for both teams.
“The Italia boys showed up and we didn’t. We didn’t hit the levels that we reached during the week.
“Credit to Italia, they fully deserved to win. They were a physical team, strong in the tackle and good in the air. We struggled to deal with that at times.
“It’s tough for our players at the moment, but losing is part of football. You need to learn how to learn from defeats and come back stronger, so losing this final is in itself a great lesson for these young players.”
The Italians took a deserved lead in the 17th minute when Buonavoglia scored a contender for goal of the tournament.
Buonavoglia burst through the Down defence at pace before hitting a sweet shot with the outside of his right foot that gave Dylan Stewart in the Down goal no chance.
Nicola Bariol almost doubled the Italians’ advantage on the half-hour mark but, after a wild goalmouth scramble, his effort was cleared off the line by Mal Smith.
Down had a good shout for a penalty turned down by referee Tony Clarke just before half-time when substitute Ben Cushnie was clattered by goalkeeper Federico la Rosa.
Ruari O’Hare was fortunate not to receive a red card in the 53rd minute when the Down defender crunched into Christian Cerretti. Referee Clarke opted for a yellow card, much to the dismay of the Italians.
The classy Bingo then settled the game in the 60th minute with an outrageous 25-yard volley that nearly broke the net.
Bingo’s strike was enough to seal the Cup for the Italians despite Down’s late efforts to get back into the game.
While Down will be disappointed with their performance on the night, they can take a massive amount of pride in their displays over the week.
With Antrim winning the Junior Section, it’s clear that the county teams are now a force to be reckoned with at the SuperCup NI.
County Down: Stewart, Smith, Conlon, Gemmell, O’Hare, Weatherup, Corbett, Carroll, Dinu, Glover, Wynne
Subs: Teggart, Cushnie, Curran, McVeigh, Ferris, Rooney, Carry
B Italia: La Rosa, Cerretti, Giordano, Magri, Petri, Cella, Volpato, Bariol, Buonavoglia, Iannone, Ruggiero
Subs: Agbugui, Tringali, Luna, Bingo, Passeri, Raccuglia
Referee: Tony Clarke