County Tyrone’s Premier side have been handed one of the toughest draws in the STATSports Super Cup NI and manager David Harvey said his side are looking forward to three different challenges.
The Red Hand U17s face Celtic, Vendee from France and Global Premier Soccer in their opening three games.
“Everyone is always hoping for a big name at the draw and to be honest they don’t get any bigger than Celtic. Over the last few years we have played the likes of Right to Dream, Club America and O’Higgins and they were outstanding sides but not household names for the average football fan here.
“The Celtic game on the Wednesday is a massive draw for us, but we know we will face strong opposition in Vendee and Global Premier Soccer beforehand.”
With just under four weeks to go until the big kick off, Harvey has been working hard with his panel to ensure they are ready for five challenging games in just five days.
“It has been a challenging year for us as coaches and we have lost a few players since we named the squad, but those who have come in have been fantastic and when one door closes another one opens for another player.
“A number of players we would have been able to select in the past have also signed for professional clubs, so it has been tricky for us, but all in all we are happy with the final 18.”
The month of June is always a busy time for County sides and Harvey said it was good to get plenty of top quality games under their belt.
“We’ve played in a number of inter-county competitions and we were delighted this year to host the first ever George Henderson MBE Cup in Cookstown.
“George is a well-known figure across footballing circles and the competition being named after him was recognition for all the work he has done for the Tyrone setup and throughout the area for the last number of decades.
“It was fantastic to be able to welcome some really top quality opposition to Cookstown for that competition. At times it can be difficult to find top quality opposition given that the club season has just finished.
“We played Fermanagh and Armagh a number of times and to be honest we were hoping we didn’t draw one of them at the competition and fortunately we avoided all of the County sides on the opening three days.
“It is an exciting draw for us and now it is a case of making sure we give them the right platform to step up and perform against some of the very best at their age group.”
The Tyrone setup have been keeping everyone up to date with their YouTube channel and they have released a number of episodes highlighting the work that goes in to preparing two teams for one of the world’s best youth competitions.
Harvey said with just a few weeks until their first match, they are doing their utmost to ensure everyone is fit and ready for the challenges that await them.
“Our players can come under all sorts of pressures in our county, whether it is GAA or their club teams. Some of our local clubs start their season a week or so after the competition, so we are having to do whatever we can to manage their workloads.
“There is a degree of responsibility placed on our young players and we provide them with a recovery plan that will help them to avoid fatigue and injuries as we approach the big kick off.”
In modern day football, coaches leave no stone unturned in their preparations and the Tyrone setup have been focusing on video analysis to ensure their players are constantly improving as they prepare for the competition.
“We’ve recorded the vast majority of our trials and matches and each week now we would sit down on a Wednesday evening as a squad and watch the games back and look at areas we can improve upon.
“It has really helped our players to identify slight changes they need to make technically or tactically during a match.
“From now until the Sunday afternoon when we travel up it is a case of just working on a few different formations, looking and working on patterns of play.
“We will look after our players and ensure that we limit our contact work and hopefully avoid anyone picking up any injuries before the competition.”
In the Junior section, Tyrone’s U15 side have three mouth-watering ties to look forward to. The Red Hand County will face Manchester United on day two, but before that they will take on tournament newcomers Bracknell Town. Their third and final group game is against Chilean side Colina.
You can follow the County Tyrone STATSports SuperCup NI YouTube page by visiting https://youtu.be/owh-8e82ULE
Monday, July 29th – 4pm – Tyrone v Vendee – Parker Avenue, Portrush.
Tuesday, July 30th – 4pm – Tyrone v Global Premier Soccer – Ahoghill.
Wednesday, July 31st – 6.15pm – Tyrone v Glasgow Celtic FC – Showgrounds, Coleraine.
Monday, July 29th – 12.30pm – Tyrone v Bracknell Town – Parker Avenue, Portrush.
Tuesday, July 30th – 8pm – Tyrone v Manchester United – Riada Stadium, Ballymoney.
Wednesday, July 31st – 4pm – Tyrone v Colina – Ahoghill.