Co Antrim defeat Club America to lift cup!

Aug 1, 2015 | Premier Section

County Antrim defeated Club America 3-2 on penalties in the Premier Section to become the first County side to win the Milk Cup in the tournament’s 32 year history.

Antrim made a quite incredible start to the match, scoring after just 27 seconds through a Ryan Nimick header after a manic goalmouth scramble. The local side piled on the early pressure and almost extended their lead on 3 minutes only for striker Brandon Doyle to hit the post with a crashing drive.

Club America were rocking, and it took until 26 minutes were on the clock before they had their first sight on goal, Aluair heading the ball just off target from a corner. County Antrim took a comfortable, if slender, 1-0 lead into break after a 35 minute period in which they were rarely troubled defensively.

The Mexican side emerged for the second half intent on scoring an equaliser and almost did so on 53 minutes when Ricardo broke free from midfield but unfortunately for the visitors his long range shot flew just wide of the target. County Antrim responded through a stunning 20 yard free kick from substitute and Ballymena United starlet Matthew Shevlin which struck the cross bar, goalscorer Ryan Nimick headed over the resulting rebound.

On 56 minutes it was all square as Club America danger man Ricardo equalised with a tidy finish after a cross from the right and display of fancy footwork in the box. Antrim were rattled at this point but regrouped and almost edged ahead when Eamon Fyfe volleyed over from outside the box after Matthew Shevlin’s free kick hit the wall. Dale McCreery threatened for the county side late on but his effort came to nothing as the final reached the seemingly inevitable conclusion of penalty kicks.

Liam McKenna, Cormac Lawlor and Joe Tully all scored for Antrim as goalkeeper Jack Ferguson pulled off threes stunning saves to win the shoot out and the tournament for County Antrim with only Matthew Shevlin unable to convert his effort from 12 yards. Not that the Ballymena United striker will dwell on his miss, given his superb double salvos on both Wednesday and Thursday to rightfully earn the accolade of County Antrim’s player of the tournament.

This will go down in history as a fantastic achievement for County Antrim who have become the first county side to win the Milk Cup in the tournament’s 32 year history, beating off competition from no less than La Liga and Premier League academies in the process.

Match Report by Jordan Miller.