Northern Ireland junior international manager Harry McConkey has named his squad for the upcoming UEFA Regions’ Cup intermediate stage mini tournament which is being hosted by the Irish FA.
Ballinamallard United manager McConkey, who has managed Northern Ireland’s junior international side (featuring junior and intermediate level players) for well over a decade, has chosen an 18-strong panel to compete in the four-team tournament.
The UEFA Regions’ Cup competition for amateur international teams was not played across 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid pandemic. However, it’s back for 2022 and 2023, and the winners of a series of intermediate stage mini tournaments this autumn will go forward to the finals next summer (dates and venues TBC).
Northern Ireland’s opponents in Intermediate Round Group 4 will be regional teams representing Wales (Tim Rhanbarthol Cymru), Czech Republic (Zlin Region) and Sweden (Region of Gothenburg).
Matchday one next Monday (10 October) will see Zlin and Gothenburg meet at Larne FC’s Inver Park Stadium at 2pm, while Northern Ireland will host Tim Rhanbarthol Cymru at the same venue that day at 8pm.
The second set of matches next Thursday (13 October) are split between Crusaders FC’s Seaview Stadium and Inver Park. The Welsh and Czech teams will meet at Seaview at 2pm, while Northern Ireland, represented by the Eastern Region, are back at Inver Park to take on the Swedes.
The final matchday is on Sunday 16 October when both games will kick off at 2pm. The Welsh and Swedish representative teams will meet at Inver Park, while Northern Ireland will lock horns with Zlin at Cliftonville FC’s Solitude Stadium.
The junior international team last took part in Regions’ Cup qualifiers back in the autumn of 2018 in a mini tournament that was also staged here. Northern Ireland won against Moldova but lost narrowly to representative teams from Portugal and Russia.
Midfielders Barry McKervey and Aaron Rodgers are the only members of the current group to survive from that squad, however McConkey has chosen a panel featuring several experienced players.
There will be free admission to all the matches.
Northern Ireland Regions’ Cup squad:
Goalkeepers: Richard Purcell (Ballyclare Comrades), Lewis Hunter (Banbridge Town).
Defenders: Alan McMurtry and Dan McMurray (both Harland and Wolff Welders), Matthew Gorman and Jack Reilly (both Newington), Matthew Devine (Larne Tech OB), Sam Dinu (Dundela).
Midfielders: Richard Gowdy and Patrick Downey (both Newington), Barry McKervey (Crumlin Star; captain), Aaron Rodgers (Annagh United), Leon Bonnes (Dundela), Ryan Gourley (Banbridge Town).
Forwards: Ciaran Heggarty and Paul Maguire (both Larne Tech OB), Anthony Burns (Knockbreda), Brian Lee Newell (Rathfriland).