The sun nearly shone this year on a large turnout of supporters and clubs as Coleraine FC Academy hosted the 21st annual Andrew Eakin 5 aside tournament at the Coleraine Showgrounds.
The invitational tournament this year saw youth teams from Ballinamallard, Ballymoney, Ballymena, Carnmoney, Coleraine, Institute, Limavady, Loughgall, Portrush and Swilly Rovers compete in the four age groups of under 8, 9,10 and 11.
On display was all that is good about youth football. It was competitive, played in a great sporting manner and above all enjoyed by all the participating teams and spectators.
The late Andy Eakin`s father Adrian, was present during the games and was delighted to see the tournament continue to grow in popularity.
The event organisers would like to express their gratitude to McDonald’s restaurant in Coleraine, who maintained their reputation for supporting youth football in the community by sponsoring this year’s tournament.
The Academy would also like to thank all the volunteers who gave up their spare time to referee the games, the runners who kept scores and the NWCDYL for the use of their equipment. There was also a special mention to the helpers who served and helped at the ‘food counter’ throughout the day.
After only a few of months training together and a only a few games as a team, the 2005 Academy squad performed well to win the annual Andrew Eakin Memorial Plate on Saturday afternoon. The boys started off slow and it was clear to see that it would take them time to learn to play as a team as they lost their first few matches, however due to the way to group finished, the boys made it into the plate semi-finals vs Carniny.
After some confidence-boosting talks from the coaches and parents, the young team started to make their weeks of hard training count as they battled hard for a 2-1 win. Myles Reiley was excellent in goal, pulling off some vital saves while Dylan Johnston in central defence broke down and attack the opposition had. Issac Moon scored a great solo effort, slipping the ball beneath the ‘keeper while Jake Scott was effective in midfield, curling his long range shot into the top corner. The lads continued their dominant performance in the final vs Ballymoney. Tyler Mitchell and Harry Doherty’s determined performances never allowed Ballymoney to have time on the ball and Jack Elliot and Jake Scott combined well up front to give the boys a 2-1 victory. Hopefully the start of good things to come for the young squad.
Coleraine FC Academy 2002 squads entered three teams into the U11 section of the Eakin Memorial tournament on Saturday past and on the third successive year came away as victors. All three teams did very well well in the qualifying stages, so much so that the ‘Academy’ team ended up playing the ‘Alexander’ team in the semi finals. The ‘Olympic’ team narrowly missed out on qualification on goal difference.
The ‘Alexander’ v ‘Academy’ semi final was a very tight match with the ‘Academy’ winning 1-0. This meant that they would face local rivals ‘Limavady’ in the final.
The ‘Academy’ team started out the final in a determined mood and scored what turned out to be the winning goal in the second minute. Some clever build up play allowed Charlie O’Neill to cheekily back heel the ball into the net from close distance.
Limavady did manage to put the ‘Academy’ defence under some pressure in the latter stages of the match but Scott Nelson in the ‘Academy’ goals was unbeatable and indeed excelled throughout the whole day conceding only two goals in seven matches.
This victory means that in the last month the 2002 ‘Academy’ team have won three prestigious tournaments in local youth football, the ‘Larne Sevens’, the ‘Bangor Sixes’ and the Eakin Memorial. Well done boys!!
CFC Academy 2002 Squad: Scott Nelson, Ben Moore, Luke McElfatrick, Scott McDonald (Capt), Luke Rae, Charlie O’Neill, Cameron Stewart, Jack Rodden, Scott Simpson, Jude Twigg