U13 Ballinamallard - a 'super' opportunity for Mallards!
Sports journalist Sam Gamble talks to Ballinamallard FC...
The class of 2005 will etch their names in the illustrious Ballinamallard United history books as they become the first ever side to represent the County Fermanagh club in the Minor section at the 2018 Super Cup NI.
The Ballinamallard U13s, who are managed by Stuart Magee, will take their place in Group B with Greenisland, Bertie Peacock Youth and Reeds FC from India.
The Ferney Park outfit have been long standing supporters of the competition and their immaculate home has played host to County matches against the likes of Bayern Munich, Cruz Azul, Newcastle United and Charlton Athletic over the years.
Some of the club’s most famous tournament graduates include Manchester United coach Kieran McKenna, Northern Ireland goalkeeper Roy Carroll and former Rangers and NI striker Andrew Little.
Magee said it will be a proud moment for everyone when his side take to the field on Monday, July 23 and added that he has been overwhelmed with the level of support from everyone at the club.
“It is an incredible experience for this group of players to become the first ever to represent Ballinamallard at such a prestigious competition. It is a proud moment for the boys, the club and myself and the coaching staff.
“Everyone at the club has been incredibly supportive. The first team manager Harry McConkey has been brilliant, and his words of inspiration and support have been something else. Harry came and spoke to the boys before the NIBFA Cup final and he is going to support us in any way he can before the end of July.”
In an interesting turn of events in Group B, Magee’s side will get the chance to try and gain some revenge for their narrow defeat to Bertie Peacock Youth in the NIBFA Cup final on May Day.
“The boys will be looking to get one over Bertie Peacock up there and we know that we are in a tough group. Greenisland are a good side and no one knows what to expect from the Indian side.”
Magee said that there has been a great deal of excitement around the club as they get ever closer to the big kick off.
“The boys are incredibly excited and can’t wait to get up there and enjoy themselves.
“A lot of these boys would go up and support the County Fermanagh team and maybe stood and watched the parade last year, never thinking they would be involved in it one year later!
“I don’t think the kids realise just how incredible an opportunity this is and at the draw the two players we brought were in awe of the facilities, the pitches and the entire set up at Ulster University.
“We will try and keep their feet on the ground and prepare as well as we can before travel up to Coleraine at the end of July.”
With just under two months to go until the first game, Magee said his side will return to training after a short break, fully refreshed and ready to go.
“We are due back at the start of June and we have planned a few friendlies including a tough game against a Cavan and Monaghan Youth League select side.
“As we move closer towards the tournament we have a few Pilates and Yoga sessions planned, just to mix up our training a bit and ensure we are 100% ready to go.
“Full credit must go to the boys and their parents – they have all really bought into what we are trying to do, and the parents have worked hard with fundraising.
“The boys are a credit to the club and their families. They are all very level headed and very modest. We have some very talented players and I don’t think some of them really appreciate just how talented they are!”