MILK CUP: Co Antrim boys look to make it third time lucky in Junior Section

Londonderry's  Jack Malone in action with Antrims Marc McKenna
Londonderry's Jack Malone in action with Antrims Marc McKenna

Stefan Seaton’s County Antrim are hoping it will be third time lucky at this year’s Dale Farm Milk Cup.

Antrim’s Junior side lost in both of the last two finals, and now they’re in a third semi-final.

The young Antrim side will now face tournament favourites Right To Dream in tonight’s semi-final, while Premier League clubs Liverpool and Southampton will go head-to-head in the other semi.

Antrim, who reached the final last year, qualified for the last four despite a frustrating scoreless draw with Londonderry at Anderson Park. Thankfully, seven points were enough to take them through.

Antrim can take some comfort from the fact that Right to Dream also drew their final qualifying draw 0-0.

Incredibly, County Armagh achieved what the likes of Benfica, Arsenal and Ajax have failed to do.

The brave county players held the fearsome African team to a scoreless draw at the Coleraine Showgrounds. Fortunately for African side, seven points was enough to see them reach the final four.

Proud County Armagh coach Pat McGibbon said: “We went to watch them on Monday and knew they were obviously a very talented team, their first touch was great and they moved the ball very quickly.

“The boys were very disappointed with Tuesday’s defeat to Tyrone so they knew they had something to show us.

“They knew they needed discipline in this game and to be honest we have a few half chances ourselves. We didn’t have much possession but we didn’t expect to against a side with so much quality.

“We can give them tactics but it’s up to the boys to carry it out so that result was all about them.”

Liverpool were the last of the four club’s to qualify. They beat Swindon Town 2-1 with a second half penalty to pip County Down, who earlier beat Strikers 6-0, into fourth place.

Their semi-finals opponents Southampton booked their place in the last four with a comprehensive 4-0 over California side Orange County Blues in Portstewart. This was a particularly impressive feat considering the Saints had just 12 fit players.

Academy Director Matt Hale said: “I’m really looking forward to playing Liverpool because at that age group we never get to play sides from the north of England. It’s also interesting because Liverpool play a similar style of passing football to us. It should be a great game.”

Rangers only needed a draw to reach this year’s semi-finals, but the Glasgow side lost 1-0 to Roma USA in Ballymoney.

Plymouth Argyle entered Wednesday with an eye on a place in the semi-finals but a 3-1 defeat to fellow English side Brentford in Portrush, ending their Milk Cup dreams.

Australian side Sydney United had a chance to progress after wins on Monday and Tuesday, but they lost 3-1 to Sheffield United in Limavady.

County Down finished the main tournament on a high with a fine 6-0 win over American side Strikers at the Joey Dunlop Centre in Ballymoney. Davy Bryson’s men finished with six points from three games.

The only side to beat Down, Donegal Schools, also finished with two wins and a defeat. They beat Colina 2-1 at Clough. The Chilean side lost all three games.

Sam Gamble’s young Fermanagh side enjoyed a Milk Cup victory. They beat Dundalk Schools 1-0 at Anderson Park.

Mexican side Zacatepic finished their campaign with a 2-0 win over North Dublin Schools, while GPS Bayern beat Tyrone 6-3 in a thrilling encounter in Broughshane.