Success for Academy in Larne

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Members of the Academy 02, 03 and 04 squads headed to Larne for the annual seven-a-side competition.

The 2003’s competition took place in the morning and following the initial rounds Coleraine found themselves up against local rivals Bertie Peacocks in the final. The game went right to the wire with Coleraine losing out to Bertie’s on penalties. Well done to both teams an excellent showcase of the quality football played on the North Coast.

The 2004 Academy and Olympic teams played their hearts out enjoying their first taste of competition against teams from all over Northern Ireland. The competition was a great experience for the squads, allowing the coaches to play the members in different positions and combinations, games were won, games were drawn and games were lost, but that is football.

The 2002 squads played in two different groups against teams they meet each week in the NWCDYL and teams from other leagues throughout Ireland. Whilst the Coleraine squads were slow to find their feet at times, when they did the games were played with depth and determination giving the band of travelling supporters plenty to cheer about.

As the final games of the first round came to an end the Olympic squad didn’t make the cut. The Academy team were still in with a chance as they were level pegging with near rivals Limavady Youths. The rules dictated that the decision would be made on penalties. As the Coleraine squad prepared themselves Coach Moore selected the players and up they stepped the tension could be felt by all present. Three well placed penalties and a fantastic save by Jack Rodden say Coleraine go through to take on Ballymoney United. With no time to recover the boys were back on the pitch for another quality game of football from both teams resulting in a final score of 1-1. Penalties loomed again with Coleraine once again being the victors.

It was ironic that Coleraine found themselves up against Carnmoney, the team that had beaten them in the very first match of the tournament. Coleraine went into this final match with sheer determination and played some of their best football of the day, showing their trade mark pass and move football, bombarding the Carnmoney goal. To the delight of the large crowd of family and friends from other local team, the game ended 3-0 to Coleraine. The squad deserve credit for their commitment and determination; they never gave up and played well as a unit.

Well done to all the squad members who travelled to watch a brilliant day’s football played in the true spirit of the game and a true credit to Coleraine FC Academy. It was during the second half that the game of football was played. With Gary Speers recovering from a failed spray on tan, he palely but confidently took up position in goal for the parents team. Kevin Keegan once said that Goalkeepers weren’t born until they’re in their late 20s or 30s, but Gary was out to prove him wrong! Derek McFaull, coach captain played smart tactics placing Noel Little upfront. Chelsea Moore, the youngest player and only female on the pitch dominated the wings with incredible pace and accurate passing. Her father Simon Moore also showed he hadn’t lost what it takes, but less can be said about Derek’s identical twin brother Colin, shape and form were not good.

The pace of the game brought Gary Huffington off for the parents with an injury, shortly followed by Paul McKeeman, from the coaches team, who had approached the second half with attach on his mind, but seconds later was flat on his back and retreating to the side-lines. McFaull took to the pitch and soon the coaches were leading 3-0 with Millar and McFaull demanding respect. The resilient parents’ team never dropped their heads even against the McPherson lads’ strong defence.

Then a blistering left foot drive from parent Simon McKay, set up by Watton, found its way into the top corner of the net, leaving the keeper in amazement and the crowd wanting more. They didn’t have long to wait. With comeback written all over their faces a further two goals quickly followed as if on elastic. This time firmly booted into the back of the net by Trevor Hutchinson. McClure broke his finger during his defence of goal, but bravely played on, earning him the man of the match. Three goals in three minutes brought the teams level. The crowd were frozen with excitement. Davey, the text book, Harper was at a loss at times to the new authors of the great game and the potential of a penalty shot off looming. Tactics had gone out of the window for the coaches as they found themselves out of their depth.

Struggling for answers the coaches could not believe their luck when five minutes towards the end of time as they found themselves in a goalmouth scramble with Captain McFaull showing no mercy and scoring the winning goal for the undefeated academy coaches team. The best of telly couldn’t beat this for drama!