The Irish Football Association is hosting the 2018 Under-19 Learning Disability Home Nations Championship next week.
The international tournament kicks off on Tuesday (3 March) and runs until next Friday, with games being staged at both Crusaders’ Seaview stadium and Cliftonville’s Solitude ground in north Belfast.
The Northern Ireland team, who last won the competition in Wales in 2015, will be looking for an improved performance this year after third place finishes in Scotland in 2016 and the Republic of Ireland last year.
The U19 Learning Disability Home Nations Championship was actually founded in Northern Ireland in 2004. However, the 2015 win has been the only success for Northern Ireland to date.
Team manager and Irish FA Disability Football Development Manager Alan Crooks said his players are keen to put in a good performance on home soil.
He explained: “The squad has been preparing since October and the players are looking forward to the competition. This will be the first time many of them will have played at an Irish League ground and I know the players and families are buzzing at that prospect.
“The players will give 100% and they should be pleased with the work they have put in so far. Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland are strong sides so I think it will be a tight competition between the four countries.”
Northern Ireland U19 Learning Disability squad: Ross Horner, Josh Harwood, Jack Andrews, Jake Ross, Callum Ross, Samuel Anderson, Keanu Griffin, Cameron Crawford, Curtis Hunter, James Clarke, Will Mangwandi, Matthew English, John Cush, Brandon Adamson, Adam Wright, Ben Welch, Dylan Galloway, Ross Wylie.
Tuesday 3 April at Solitude – Northern Ireland v Republic of Ireland (11am kick-off) and Wales v Scotland (2pm)
Wednesday 4 April at Seaview – Northern Ireland v Wales (11am) and Scotland v Republic of Ireland (2pm)
Friday 6 April at Solitude – Republic of Ireland v Wales (10.15am)
Friday 6 April at Seaview – Northern Ireland v Scotland (11am) followed by trophy presentation at 1pm approx
Image: Northern Ireland last won the U19 Learning Disability Home Nations Championship back in 2015.