Derby matches are always hotly anticipated in any sport and for the Down Junior side, they will be licking their lips at a chance to go toe to toe with fierce rivals Antrim at SuperCupNI 2017.
Down, who are managed by David Bryson, open the tournament with a clash against Dublin side Cherry Orchard on Monday, before tackling Antrim on Tuesday and concluding their campaign against Chilean side Colina.
Bryson said their focus will be firmly fixed on the opening game and they won’t let their minds wander to that showdown with Antrim on day two.
“The priority is to try and get a result on the Monday, because it sets you up well for the week.
“A few years ago when I was with the Premier team we played Cherry Orchard and they usually play a similar style of football to us and the two teams will be well matched.
“It will be a tight game for us to start off with.”
Bryson admitted he would have preferred to have avoided Antrim in the opening three days.
“I know the manager of Antrim quite well and in recent years they have been very successful at the Junior age group.
“We would have liked to have avoided them. They are a strong side, but it was almost inevitable we would draw a county side at some stage!”
In the Premier section, Down have another Ulster derby to look forward to as they take on County Fermanagh on the third and final day of the qualifying stages.
Down, who are managed this year by John Bailie, will open the tournament with a clash against Premier newcomers First Choice Soccer, before facing French side Vendee and concluding with Fermanagh on day three.
Down coach Gary McAllister said their clash with Fermanagh will be an intriguing contest.
“The county game are always a funny one at the tournament as you know what you are coming up against, but it has that bit of extra spice to it and everyone is trying to get bragging rights.
“We played Armagh last year and it was a fantastic game on the Tuesday night.
“The two other teams we don’t really know what we will be up against but is an exciting draw for us.”
French regulars Vendee, finished as runners-up to Manchester United back in 2014 and they are likely to be stern opposition for Down on Tuesday.
“In my first year back in 2015, we played them and it was a difficult game and they were a physical side.
“You don’t know what sort of team they will bring over but we know it will be a difficult game, but that is what it is about, giving our players challenges.”
*Credit, Sam Gamble
County Down fixtures
Monday, July 24 – Down v Cherry Orchard.
Tuesday, July 25 – Down v Antrim.
Wednesday, July 26 – Down v Colina (Chile).
Monday, July 24 – Down v First Choice Soccer (USA)
Tuesday, July 25 – Down v Vendee (France).
Wednesday, July 26 – Down v Fermanagh.