Pictured – Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor William McCaughey with Victor Leonard, Chairman of SuperCupNI and Don Stirling, Ballymena United FC.
It came as a great disappointment that the STATSports SuperCupNI Tournament had to be cancelled for a second year. Organisers had been really busy putting together a strong field of 50 teams to stage a UK and Ireland event but due to the ever-changing nature of the virus, organisers had to admit defeat in April and cancel the usual format of the Tournament.
Discussions within the Organising Committee took place to see if anything could be staged, which would keep SuperCupNI uppermost in people’s minds. Soon the idea of staging a number of games during what would have been the week of the Tournament began to take shape.
Chairman, Victor Leonard, commented, “Despite the great disappointment of cancellation, we approached Manchester United and invited them to send a team to Northern Ireland to play a number of challenge games against local opposition. They were delighted to accept the invitation and agreed for the under 16 team to make the journey to play three games. The result of so many weeks of hard work has resulted in these games taking place during the week commencing Monday 26th July, which was the date of this year’s Tournament.”
The second game of Manchester United’s tour will take place next Wednesday on 28th July at Ballymena Showgrounds, when their opponents will be Ballymena United. The two clubs met in 2019 when an under 23 Manchester United team ran out winners against a strong Ballymena United eleven by 4 goals to 3.
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor William McCaughey said:
“Mid and East Antrim very much looks forward to welcoming the Manchester United Under 16 team next Wednesday, for what I have no doubt will be an intense and exciting match.
“Our Borough is renowned as a hub for young football talent in Northern Ireland thanks to the outstanding work of our three local teams in supporting, encouraging and nurturing young people on their football journey from an early age.
‘The Ballymena United Under 17 team have trained exceptionally hard for this match and I have no doubt that their commitment will pay off in a strong performance against Manchester United. The entire Borough is proud of them and, as Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, I wish them every success.”
As a result of the restrictions introduced by the Northern Ireland Executive, a limited number of spectators was allowed at each game. The tickets for all three games quickly sold out leaving many spectators disappointed. Victor Leonard raised some hope for those still looking for tickets when he said, “The NI Executive meets tomorrow and if social distancing is reduced or dispensed with, extra tickets for all three games will be made available on the MyTicket App from Friday 23rd July.”
Manchester United’s other two games are on Monday 26th July at Portstewart where the opponents are Coleraine FC and on Friday 30th July at Dixon Park, Ballyclare, when Linfield FC will provide the opposition.
All three games have a 7:00 pm kick off.