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Monday 04 Mar 2024
West defeat East in Regions’ Cup play-off

The Western Region will represent Northern Ireland in UEFA Regions’ Cup qualifiers later this year for the first time since 2016.

It follows an East v West play-off match at Dungannon’s Stangmore Park in which the team representing the western part of Northern Ireland prevailed on a 3-0 scoreline.

The game was highly competitive, with both teams creating chances.

Eastern Region started on the front foot and had a good opportunity thwarted before Limavady United striker John Butcher edged the West ahead on 10 minutes.

East pushed for an equaliser but Butcher grabbed a second for the West after weaving his way past the East defence before slotting the ball into the net.

The Eastern Region side controlled possession after the break but found it difficult to create clearcut chances.

And on 68 minutes the West sealed the victory thanks to a Matthew Pierce (Newbuildings United) strike.

East piled forward in the closing stages but could not find a way past the West defence.

Harry McConkey will manage the Northern Ireland team in Regions’ Cup qualifiers this autumn. In the intermediate round (Group 4) they will face teams from Republic of Ireland and Switzerland plus the winners of a preliminary round group featuring sides representing Azerbaijan, Georgia and Sweden.

After the play-off match at Stangmore, McConkey and his assistant Gerald Boyle thanked all the players involved with both regional teams for attending training sessions prior to the game in Dungannon.

The West team was coached by Gary Simpson, Chris McDowell, Wes Ferguson and Jerome Carleton (goalkeeping coach), while the East coaches were Craig McClean, Ryan Moffett, Tommy Duffy and Tony Miskelly (goalkeeping coach).

McConkey further pointed out: “If I am being perfectly honest I thought the West showed a greater hunger and determination on the night and this alongside some quality finishing saw them through to Europe to represent Northern Ireland in the prestigious UEFA Regions’ Cup.

“I look forward now to working with the successful West squad in the summer in preparation for an exciting challenge in Group 4.”

Western Region: Jamie Ray (GK), Lee Forgraves, Niall Fielding, Jordan Killen, Nathan Sherry, Ruairi Boorman, Ryan McCaul, Matthew Callaghan, Nick Palmer, John Butcher, Matthew Pierce, Ray Kelly (GK), Luke Curry, Connor Rippey, Tiarnan Campbell, Joshua Busteed, Darren Robb, Jonathan McLean, Lorcan Toner, Matthew McNeill.

Eastern Region: Dean Smyth (GK), Dean Lewis, Sam Dinu, Matthew Gorman, Richard Gowdy, Dylan Sinnerton, Charlie Dornan, Johnny Mairs, Ewan McCoubrey, Anthony Nelson, Lewis Hunter (GK), Corai Quinn, Jack Wilson, Jack Kinner, Leon Bonnes, Anthony Burns, Liam Toman, Mattew Herron, Matthew Hanna.