The winner of this season’s Translink Schools’ Gold Cup will be revealed on Friday.
The Translink-backed competition involves the eight post-primary schools in Northern Ireland who have been awarded the Gold Schools Quality Mark accreditation - it recognises schools who put structures in place to develop football - by the Irish Football Association Foundation.
And Friday (6 March) is Finals Day - it is being staged at Allen Park in Antrim - when the winners of trophies in three age groups plus an overall winner will be decided. Matches will start at 10am with the finals scheduled to begin at 3.30pm.
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.
The current holders of the overall trophy, Our Lady and St Patrick’s College Knock, are out of contention this season but the east Belfast school could still win the U17 trophy when they face Holy Cross College (Strabane) in the final.
The battle for top school in the country this year will be between Holy Cross College and St Columb’s College (Derry-Londonderry). St Columb’s are competing in the U13 and U15 finals against Laurelhill and Boys’ Model respectively.
The post-primary schools that have been taking part in the competition are: Bangor Academy, St Columb’s College, Boys’ Model School (Belfast), Laurelhill Community College (Lisburn), St Malachy’s College (Belfast), Our Lady and St Patrick’s College, Ashfield Boys (Belfast) and Holy Cross College.
Translink’s Hilton Parr said: “Excitement is mounting for this year’s Gold Cup finals and if previous round fixtures are anything to go by it’s set to be an action-packed event showcasing the very best in youth football talent.
“This competition is all about promoting an active and healthy lifestyle and, as Northern Ireland’s main school transport provider, we’re committed to supporting pupil development and wellbeing.”
The finals/play-off games in Antrim are as follows:
U13 – 1st/2nd Laurelhill v St Columb’s College, 3rd/4th Ashfield v Holy Cross College, 5th/6th Our Lady and St Patrick’s v Boys’ Model, 7th/8th St Malachy’s v Bangor Academy.
U15 – 1st/2nd St Columb’s College v Boys’ Model, 3rd/4th Bangor Academy v Holy Cross College, 5th/6th Ashfield v St Malachy’s, 7th/8th Laurelhill v Our Lady and St Patrick’s.
U17 – 1st/2ndHoly Cross v Our Lady and St Patrick’s, 3rd/4th St Malachy’s v Ashfield, 5th/6th Laurelhill v St Columb’s College, 7th/8th Boys’ Model v Bangor Academy.
To find out more about the Translink Schools’ Gold Cup visit www.irishfa.com/foundation/schools-programmes