The inaugural winner of the Translink Schools’ Gold Cup will be revealed next week.
The new Translink-backed competition involves the eight post-primary schools in Northern Ireland who have been awarded the Gold Schools Quality Mark accreditation by the Irish Football Association Foundation.
And next Wednesday (6 March) is Finals Day - it is being staged at Ballymena Showgrounds - when the winners of trophies in three age groups plus an overall winner will be decided.
The eight participating schools have faced each other across the age groups (U13, U15, U17) since the start of the school year.
In the competition points are awarded to schools for their league positions, and the school with the most points will be the overall winner of the Translink Schools’ Gold Cup and claim ‘Top Football Performance School’ status in Northern Ireland.
Currently Our Lady and St Patrick’s College Knock are favourites for the Schools’ Gold Cup. The east Belfast school have teams in the finals which will determine the U13 and U15 cup winners.
However, breathing down their necks are St Columb’s College who will meet Holy Cross College in the U17 final and have a double header in the third and fourth place play-offs at U13 and 15 level with Ashfield Boys.
St Columb’s College coach James Green said: “The U17 squad have continued their fine form from last season’s victorious U16 NI Cup campaign, with good performances showcasing their desire to play an attractive attacking brand of possession football.”
He added that his squad were fully focused on winning the U17 trophy.
The post-primary schools that have been taking part in the inaugural competition are: Bangor Academy, St Columb’s College (Derry-Londonderry), Boys’ Model School (Belfast), Laurelhill Community College (Lisburn), St Malachy’s College (Belfast), Our Lady and St Patrick’s College (Belfast), Ashfield Boys (Belfast) and Holy Cross College (Strabane).
The Schools Quality Mark accreditation supports schools to put structures in place to develop football.
Chris Conway, Translink Group Chief Executive, said the Gold Cup wasa superb opportunity to nurture upcoming football talent from right across Northern Ireland.
The finals/play-off games being played in Ballymena on 6 March are as follows:
U13 – 1st/2ndOur Lady and St Patrick’s College Knock (OLSPCK) v St Malachy’s, 3rd/4thAshfield v St Columb’s, 5th/6thHoly Cross v Boys’ Model, 7th/8thLaurelhill v Bangor Academy;
U15 – 1st/2ndOLSPCK v Boys’ Model, 3rd/4thAshfield v St Columb’s, 5th/6thLaurelhill v St Malachy’s, 7th/8thHoly Cross v Bangor Academy;
U17 – 1st/2ndHoly Cross v St Columb’s, 3rd/4thLaurelhill v Boys’ Model; 5th/6thOLSPCK v St Malachy’s, 7th/8thAshfield v Bangor Academy.
To find out more about the Translink Schools’ Gold Cup click here
Image: St Columb’s College are in contention for the U17 trophy and the overall Translink Schools’ Gold Cup.