Football fans suffering withdrawal symptoms after the World Cup in Brazil in July will quickly find a cure when Northern Ireland’s own world cup in the guise of the Dale Farm Milk Cup kicks off in the North West on Monday 28th July.
Fifty-six teams from the world’s leading professional clubs, famous football academies and National Associations from all five Continents descend on the five local authorities of Coleraine, Ballymena, Limavady, Ballymoney and Derry City to battle it out over five days hoping to end the week as Dale Farm Milk Cup champions in the Elite (under 19), Premier (under 17) and Junior (under 15) sections.
Manchester United commence the defence of their Milk Cup crown in the Premier Section against leading youth team, Gold Coast Academy from Australia at Coleraine Showgrounds on Monday followed on Tuesday with their game against Co Armagh at Riada Stadium in Ballymoney. United’s third qualifying game against CSKA Moscow, will be played at the Brandywell Stadium in Derry on Wednesday 30th July with a 7pm kick off. This is the first year in its thirty-two year history that the Milk Cup will have games at Derry City FC’s home venue.
Newcastle United, Benfica, Espanyol, Chertanovo Football Academy from Moscow, Lusaka Football Academy from Zambia, Orange County Blues from California, Bohemian FC and Cherry Orchard from Dublin as well as the six County teams from Northern Ireland are among the other teams involved in the search for the champions crown during the week.
In the Junior Section, present holders, Everton will play Middlesbrough on Monday at Castlerock, crack Brazilian side, Corinthians at Anderson Park on Tuesday and finish their qualifying games against Co Fermanagh on Wednesday at Ballymena Showgrounds.
County Antrim losing finalists to Everton last year open their fixtures against winners of the Chile Dale Farm Milk Cup, Santa Marta de Liray at The Warren Portstewart, at noon on Monday followed on Tuesday with a game against Co Londonderry at Riada Stadium, Ballymoney, kick off 1:30; Antrim’s opponents on Wednesday will be Swindon Town at Anderson Park, Coleraine at noon.
One of the most eye-catching games in the Junior Section is Liverpool against Rangers, which takes place on Tuesday at Ballymena Showgrounds with an 8pm kick off.
Liverpool’s first opponents on Monday are Sheffield United at Scroggy Road, Limavady with a 7pm kick off while Rangers opponents on Monday are Co Armagh, being played at the Riverside Stadium, Drumahoe. Wednesday sees Rangers playing O’Higgins from Chile at 3:30 at Riada Stadium, Ballymoney while Liverpool’s opponents are Co Armagh also at 3:30 at Coleraine Showgrounds.
Tournament organisers have finalised all the fixtures. They can now be accessed by logging onto the website at www.dalefarmmilkcup.com.
The Dale Farm Milk Cup begins with the traditional parade of competing teams through Coleraine on Sunday, July 27, concluding with finals night at Ballymena Showgrounds on Friday, August 1.
In addition to title sponsors Dale Farm, Northern Ireland’s largest dairy company, the Dale Farm Milk Cup is supported by the five Councils of Coleraine, Ballymena, Ballymoney and Limavady Borough Councils and Derry City Council.
Northern Ireland Tourist Board, The Sun, apparel providers Legea and Dawson Whyte Insurance, with BBC Sport NI as broadcast partners.