Belfast Telegraph

SuperCupNI: Awesome Antrim just too hot for Newcastle

By Keith Bailie

County Antrim made a flying start to the SuperCupNI’s Premier Section, defeating Newcastle United 3-1 at the Ballymena Showgrounds.

Andy Hunter’s Antrim made SuperCup history two years ago when they became the first county side to lift the Premier Section trophy. On that famous night at the Ballymena Showgrounds, they defeated Mexican side Club America in a dramatic penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw. Club America and Antrim will clash again this afternoon.

Hunter, an Irish League winner with Linfield, was understandably delighted with his side’s display.

“It was a fantastic performance from the boys, who worked incredibly hard for that result against quality opposition. They also showed their ability on the ball, scoring three good goals. Two of our goals came from set-pieces, which we were pleased about because we have worked hard in training on our dead balls,” he said.

“But they have won nothing yet, and if the boys want to go far in this tournament they will have to keep their feet on the ground.

“Two years ago we showed that county sides are capable of winning this competition, but that victory was the result of hard work and this group of boys still have a lot of work to do.

“We have a very difficult game against Club America of Mexico in Ballymoney on Tuesday, followed by an all-county derby with Tyrone on Wednesday. The nature of this competition means one poor result will cost you a place in the semi-finals.

“We know what to expect from Club America as this is the third year in a row we have played them. They keep the play very well, but we have showed against Newcastle that we can cope with that.”

Patrick Burns opened the scoring for the host county in the fourth minute, before Cliftonville man Aaron Donnelly turned home a free-kick to make it 2-0 in first-half stoppage time. Donnelly has already played a number of first-team games for the north Belfast reds.

Caoimhin McConnell added a third from close range 30 seconds after the restart. Jack Robson pulled a goal back for the Magpies in the 67th minute, but it wasn’t enough to kick-start a comeback.

Elsewhere, Osasco of Brazil and Londonderry drew 0-0 at Scroggy Road, while GPS Bayern defeated Fermanagh 1-0 at the Riada.

There was a disappointing result for Armagh in Portstewart as they lost 2-0 to American side The Strikers.

John Bailie’s County Down team drew 1-1 with touring club First Choice Soccer in Portrush. Tom Mathieson, son of former Irish League star Andy, gave Down the lead from the penalty spot only for Pol Smyth to equalise early in the second half.

Bailie said: “It wasn’t the result we had hoped for but we will pick ourselves up and go again against Vendee at The Warren.”

County Tyrone impressed at the Ballymena Showgrounds. They defeated Beijing-based Morning Star United 3-1 in a game that was broadcast live via the BBC website. Andrew Scott headed Tyrone into the lead, before the Chinese club equalised. Tyler Anderson’s long-range shot made it 2-1, before an own goal completed the scoring.

There were three all-foreign clashes in the Premier Section.

Komazawa of Japan drew 1-1 with O’Higgins of Chile in Broughshane, while Mexican side Club America defeated Otago of New Zealand 3-1 in Portstewart.

Ghanaian side Right to Dream, who won the Junior Section last year, kick-started their Premier campaign with a 4-0 win over French club Vendee in Clough. Ibrahim Sadiq scored a hat-trick for the African Academy side.

Sadiq is no stranger to SuperCup glory. He scored in the 2015 Junior final, when Right to Dream destroyed English side Southampton 7-0.

Right to Dream will continue their campaign today with a game against County Fermanagh in Broughshane, with kick-off at 5pm.

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