Northern Ireland’s Junior International side will get their 2019 UEFA Regions’ Cup qualifying campaign under way with a game against Portugal later today.
Harry McConkey’s team are set to face Braga, representing Portugal, at Stangmore Park in Dungannon (7.30pm) as part of a six-game UEFA Regions’ Cup intermediate stage mini tournament.
The tournament, which is being hosted by Northern Ireland, gets under way this afternoon with Russia (South Region – Chayka) taking on Macedonia (Amateurs FYR Macedonia) at Coleraine Showgrounds (2.00).
McConkey said: "This competition provides amateur players with an opportunity to play on a European stage and an opportunity to play in a professional environment.
"We know Braga will be well drilled and will be good technically. It's a big task but it is vital to get something on the board in the first game."
Matchday two is on Sunday (21 October). Russia and Portugal are set to meet at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park (noon start), while Northern Ireland and Amateurs FYR Macedonia will clash at the same venue at 17:30.
Next Wednesday (24 October) the mini tournament will draw to a close with Northern Ireland v Russia at Mourneview Park in Lurgan (19:30) and Amateurs FYR Macedonia against Portugal at Shamrock Park in Portadown (19:30).
The entry fee to all games is £3, while concessions will get in free of charge.
McConkey has assembled a strong squad for Northern Ireland’s three games in the mini competition. The 18 players are from the Eastern Region, who defeated Western Region in play-offs back in May to determine who would represent Northern Ireland in the Regions’ Cup qualifiers.
The winners of eight intermediate round groups will compete in the Regions’ Cup finals next June. The finals will be hosted by one of the qualifiers.
Northern Ireland squad:
Goalkeepers – Jordan Williamson (PSNI), Dean Smyth (Knockbreda);
Defenders – Chris Middleton (Queen’s University), William Armstrong and Scott McMillan (both Harland & Wolff Welders), Jamie Patterson (Knockbreda), Joe Reid (Lisburn Distillery), Aaron Rodgers (Lurgan Celtic);
Midfielders – Barry McKervey (Crumlin Star), Dylan Wilson (PSNI), Jordan Gibson (Loughgall), Adam Gray (Ballyclare Comrades), Martin Bradley (Immaculata), Terry McGrath (St James’ Swifts), Lewis Irwin (H&W Welders);
Forwards – Chris Watts (Dundela), Ricky Thompson (Dollingstown United), Adam McDonald (Dromara Village).