A Northern Ireland U14 development team defeated Club Brugge today to secure the main overall prize at a major youth tournament in the Netherlands.
Northern Ireland won the inaugural Den Bosch International Tournament after edging past the Belgian club side’s U14s by two goals to one in the final.
It capped a string of fine performances by the boys in green and white at the tournament in the Dutch city of ’s-Hertogenbosch.
The U14 players, who are all part of the Irish FA’s National Performance Programme, initially competed in three group matches on Saturday.
They defeated Swedish side Djurgardens 6-0 in their opening game in Group A before edging past Danish team Kolding IF 3-1 in their second match. Their final group encounter saw them comprehensively sweep aside Dutch outfit VVV Venlo on an 8-0 scoreline.
Day two of the tournament involved quarter-finals and semi-finals. Like the group matches, the games were either played at De Vliert, the home of FC Den Bosch, who compete in the Eerste Divisie (Dutch second division), or Sportpark De Vliert, the home of amateur side BVV, a partner club of FC Den Bosch.
In the last eight Northern Ireland defeated another Danish team, Silkeborg, by two goals to nil at BVV’s ground.
In yesterday’s semi-final at De Vliert they met a third side from Denmark, AGF Aarhus, who had defeated Dutch team PSV Eindhoven in the quarter-finals. Northern Ireland proved too strong for Aarhus, winning 3-0.
Club Brugge booked their place in today’s final after defeating Kolding IF 2-1 in the last eight and Manchester United 1-0 in the last four.
In the decider at De Vliert goals from strikers Luke Hawe and Stephen Kelly proved enough for Northern Ireland to win the trophy.
Looking after the U14s group were coaches Michael McClean, Kris Lindsay, Rory Hale and David Miskelly (goalkeeping coach).
The 20-strong Northern Ireland squad who played in the Den Bosch International Tournament included:
Goalkeepers – Matthew Hayman (Dungannon United Youth), Cole Smyth (Derry City).
Defenders – Jack Johnston and Jamie Johnston (both Dungannon United Youth), Calum Anderson and Jack Hirthe (both Linfield), Paul Stanfield (Cliftonville), Ross Campbell (Greenisland), Charlie Campbell (Glentoran).
Midfielders - Max Strong (Ballymena United), Caleb Sweeney (Greenisland), Emmett Morrison (Derry City), Ryan Lagan (Rosario), Cameron Reid (Glentoran).
Forwards - Stephen Kelly and Jack May (both Linfield), Matthew McCann and Joel Kerr (both Glentoran), Luke Hawe (Ballymena United), Coran Madden (Cliftonville).