It was a case of déjà vu for the County Armagh Juniors at last Tuesday’s SuperCupNI 2017 draw.
The Orchard County have been handed another crack at Scottish giants Rangers on the opening night of the competition.
Last summer, Dean McCullough’s 2016 charges were seconds from claiming a well-deserved point at the Coleraine Showgrounds on the opening night, before Dapo Mebude struck late on to hand the Ibrox youngsters all three points.
Hamiltonsbawn native Chris Chambers has taken over the reigns as Junior manager, with Dean McCullough continuing to work with the U15 panel as coach alongside Nathan McConville and goalkeeping coach Johnny Pollock.
Armagh will face Rangers on the opening night and on day two they will meet North Dublin Schoolboys, before concluding their qualifying campaign with a tricky tie against Swindon Town.
McCullough, who is also County Armagh chairman, said the fixtures are very similar to their opening three games last summer.
“We obviously had Rangers last year on the opening night, Tyrone on the Tuesday and Plymouth on the Wednesday and the fixtures are very similar.
“We are really looking forward to meeting Rangers again and it is a great honour to play a team of that stature.
“It is going to great for the young lads, particularly the guys who are playing in the tournament for the first time.
“We are lucky that we will have three or four who played against them last year and hopefully they will be ready for revenge.
Armagh Premier manager Brendan Grimes said that his side face three tricky ties. At last Tuesday’s draw in Templepatrick the Orchard County U17 side were drawn against Californian side Strikers FC in the opening game of the competition.
On day two Armagh will take on Japanese newcomers Komazawa FC and they will conclude their qualifying stages with an intriguing tie against County Londonderry.
“The ties are very similar to what we encountered last year. We played a very tricky Japanese side last year and drew 3-3 in Limavady,” said Grimes.
“Technically and tactically they were very good and we will expect something similar again this summer.
“The Strikers haven’t played at the Premier age group for a few years but they will be physically fit and strong and we know we will be in for a battle against them.
“We aren’t sure what sort of strength Derry will be at, but it will be a typical county game and we are well used to those by now.”
Credit, Sam Gamble
County Armagh fixtures
Monday, July 24 – Armagh v Rangers.
Tuesday, July 25 – Armagh v North Dublin.
Wednesday, July 26 – Armagh v Swindon Town
Monday, July 24 – Armagh v Strikers FC (USA).
Tuesday, July 25 – Armagh v Komazawa FC (Japan)
Wednesday, July 26 – Armagh v Londonderry.