County preview series – ever improving Tyrone ready to make their mark

County Tyrone Junior Head Coach Chris Colhoun says his Junior squad won’t have to look too far for inspiration this summer as they prepare to take on some of the very best.

County Tyrone’s Juniors lost narrowly to Manchester United in last year’s semi-final, and Chris Colhoun wants this year’s squad to use last years’ experience to go one further.

Tyrone’s SuperCupNI 2022 Junior Section squad

“I think that has given this group something to aspire to and knowing that that’s achievable.

“Knowing that if they work hard, if they can get the togetherness within the group that they too can also achieve something special.”

“Anything can happen in SuperCupNI, a goal here, a penalty there, you just don’t know where you’ll end up on Thursday.

“Everybody wants to be in the big grounds on a Thursday for a semi-final against a big opponent.”

Tyrone faced Manchester United in last year’s Junior Section final at Coleraine Showgrounds

The 37-year-old reflected on last years’ tournament, which left him full of pride in his team.

“Last year was special, it was great to reach the semi-final but not only that, to compete well with them and only for the width of a post we could have taken them to penalties.”

Colhoun, who coaches at Mountjoy United, was pleased with the number of players interested in playing for the county.

“This year we had 110 in total turn up to trial, which was quite a significant jump from last year,” he said.

“I was quite impressed too with the array of clubs that the players were from, which was great.

“We obviously have Dungannon Swifts on our doorstep here, but we had also quite a few others attending from National League clubs and clubs playing in other regional leagues as well, so there was a lot of players keen to fight for their place, which was brilliant.”

Tyrone’s Premier Section side in action in Portstewart at SuperCupNI 2022

His Junior side are taking on Premier League side West Ham United, Canadian outfit Prospects 2 Pro Academy and County Down, and Colhoun believes it’s good his side will face different challenges in the group stage.

He said: “It’s an exciting draw for the players and for all of us. It’s always nice to get one the big Premier League teams and you always get a good game against counties as well.

“The Canadian team is a bit of an unknown, so a nice range of opponents in the first three days, which is good and we’re looking forward to it.”

Colhoun believes the Super Cup NI is a vital tournament for young footballers in Northern Ireland who are looking to make it in the game.

He said: “It’s a natural stepping stone for any young player who wants to have a career in football.

“It’s something they all look out for and certainly we’ve seen it, as I say, we had over a hundred players turned up and you can genuinely see the excitement that they want to be part of something.

Tyrone’s Premier Section side in action in Portstewart at SuperCupNI 2022

“Then when the preparations get going you can see it even more and how much they dedicate themselves to it.

“It really is massive for young players in Northern Ireland for them to experience the tournament, but also to give them a platform to show what they can do to watching scouts from across the water, who seem to be looking a lot more to Northern Ireland now to recruit players.”

Tyrone’s Junior Team Head Coach praised the work being done at the clubs in the county and thanked them for their continued support.

“It’s a big family affair,” he said.

“We are thankful for the support of our parents and their friends and family, things like that. I have to say all the local clubs have been very supportive of us as well.

“All the clubs are very proud to have a county representative playing in their team and they really want their players to be part of it.

“They obviously do an awful lot of work throughout the year, so for them to see their own players playing for a county on the big stage is great for them.”

In the Premier section, Martin Gallagher’s have a very difficult draw on their hands. They open the tournament against County Antrim and their second opponent is Premier League side Newcastle United. Their third and final opponent is American newcomers Northeast Rush.

Write up by Stuart McCracken