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Hundreds of the best young players in County Down trial every year with the ambition of representing their County at the Dale Farm Milk Cup. Few make it and fewer still manage to do it four years in succession. That was what Callum Byers, Nic Turkington and Adam Salley did and the 2014 Dale Farm Milk Cup saw them make their last appearance for County Down. The three lads have been stalwarts in the Down set-up and all three were honoured for their outstanding achievement by County Down committee Chairman Paul Ritchie at the awards ceremony following Friday’s Salver Cup victory over Bohemians.

 

The other day I caught up with all three individuals to discuss what the Dale Farm Milk Cup means to them. Callum Byers, who skippered John Bailie’s premier side in this years Dale Farm Milk Cup and took home player of the tournament spoke about his relationship with the Milk Cup,

 

“Now that I have played in my last Milk Cup for County Down I am devastated, I have no idea what I will do next summer. The Milk Cup has developed me into the player that I am today.”  For the imposing Centre half has started 19 consecutive games for County Down, only missing the first game of the 2011 campaign, his favourite Dale Farm Milk Cup moment came on, “The Wednesday of the 2013 Dale Farm Milk Cup when I was playing a year young in the Premier section against Cruz Azul who were one of the favourites to the whole tournament, but we battled and worked hard beating them 1-0. When the final whistle went it was an incredible feeling and a great achievement.”

 

For Nic Turkington of Carryduff, his favourite moments were “firstly getting in a year young in 2011 and playing in every game was amazing and then in 2012 winning the overall golden boot, player of the tournament and the Bertie Peacock award all in one year from left back was incredible and gave me memories that I will never forget.” He added that “Dale Farm Milk Cup was to me the most enjoyable week of summer and it will be sorely missed.”

Forward Salley remembers, “the banter with the lads in the hotel, the time at the beach and the opportunity you were given to play against and learn from some of the best young players around. It was the climax of the summer, everything you looked forward to.”

Despite the fond memories this years tournament was tinged with a case of ‘what could have been’. Salley said, “ I had high expectations for us this year. In the training sessions and in the friendly games we were well organised and playing some really good football but when it came to the big games we played no football at all. Basically we underachieved.” Byers added that “things did not go our way in the first 3 games but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

And with that final kick of the ball on Friday in the Salver Cup final the curtains were drawn on these three young players careers with County Down. All three were grateful to the opportunities provided to them by Chairman Paul Ritchie, Kyle Spiers and John Bailie over the past number of years. Here’s hoping that this will not be the last we hear of Turkington, Salley and Byers and that one day they will be able to join the elite band of professional footballers who once played in this prestigious Tournament. For the meantime all that is left to do is to recognise the skill, perseverance and dedication each one of these lads has shown in abundance over the previous four years.

 

 

2014 Ballot Winners

Ballot winners 2014
Lodge weekend – Avril c/o Rhys O’Bryan
Quays Restaurant voucher – Gabby , Holywood GC
Signed football -M Milligan , Dundela
Shoe Fair voucher – M Kelly, Comber
Multi Clean voucher – J Campbell, Newtownards
Bottle Jaegermeister – L Duncan, Portadown
Ice watch – J Byers, Dundonald
Dyson vacuum cleaner – C Shields, Strangford
Ski & Sports voucher – C McConville, Newry
Azure Beauty Clinic voucher – Choc Box, Belfast
Signed NI Shirt – A Davidson, Comber

Finally on behalf of the committee a big thanks to everyone who sold and bought tickets. The support was greatly appreciated!

 

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John Bailie’s premier squad took on Bohemians in the Salver final on a wet and windy day at Anderson Park. Down started like a house on fire and almost scored inside the first couple of minutes after Salley done Well down the left hand side before teeing up strike partner Rushe who saw his effort just go over the bar.

Khalid was next to go close, fizzing in a low drive from 20 yards against the post. Byers and Salley also missed chances as Down looked to capitalise on their impressive start by taking the lead. They did not have long to wait, thanks to Lennox scoring his second goal in two days from a free kick to make it 1-0 to Down.

On the stroke on half time it was almost 2-0 when Rushe whipped in a dangerous free kick that Stewart got on the end of but the big centre half saw his effort saved well by the Bohemians keeper. John Bailie’s squad entered the half-time interval knowing that the final could have been wrapped up had they been more clinical in front of goal.

The second half was a fairly drab affair as both teams looked to be feeling the effects of the fifth game in as many days. Salley who had scored in the two previous days was eager to add to his total and he almost did. After a neat turn on the edge of the box he drilled a left-footed shot in on the Bohemians goal but it was well saved by the keeper. That was the end of the action as Down comfortably held on to win the Salver Trophy and end the week with only one defeat.

Teams: Kane, Foster, Stewart, Byers, Neale, Lennox, Khalid, Dempster, Dupree, Salley, Rushe. Subs: Morrow, Mcgovern, Drylie, Johnston, Noble-Walker, Turkington, Newell.

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County Junior Squad before the Bowl Final.

Broughshane was the venue for the final game of the 2014 Dale Farm Milk Cup for Kyle Spiers’ junior squad. Taking on Scottish league side Motherwell in the final of the Bowl, Down found themselves behind once again to an early goal after neat play down the Motherwell right teed up their centre forward who made no mistake with a composed low finish.
Down responded well, equalising just minutes later after a lovely reverse pass by Captain Sharvin set the prolific Brown, through on goal. Brown found the bottom left hand corner with his finish to make it 1-1 and take his goal tally for the week to 5.

Down, who were now in the ascendency were causing all sorts of problems for the Motherwell defence and it seemed only a matter of time before they took the lead. Sharvin went close a couple of times with long range efforts but it was McClements who gave Down the lead after 20 minutes with a diving header from a Chambers cross.

Leading 2-1 Down continued to press home their dominance as Chambers went close with his finish after a driving run through the Motherwell midfield. Tobin then almost added to Downs lead when his header from a Chambers corner went just over. As the teams headed in for the half time interval Down were in control and could count themselves unlucky only to be 2-1 in front.

The second half began the way the first half ended with Down firmly in control and it was not long before it was 3-1 thanks to a Leo Brown penalty following a foul on Down forward Tobin.
Down who were rampant by this stage looked like scoring every time they attacked. Chambers went close after beating his man and firing in a left-footed shot on goal. Brown was next up to go close as the big striker, who was chasing down the Tournament Golden boot almost got his hat-trick but his effort, from a McArthur cross went just over.

Motherwell who were being outplayed almost got one back but their centre half’s header from the corner was well saved by Davidson in the Down goal. They went close again shortly later but once again Davidson was equal to the effort. A slack 5 minutes followed for Down, and they were punished when Motherwell forward Faulkner drilled home a finish after latching onto a low cross from the right to make it 3-2.

That goal brought Down back to life as moments later Brown almost sealed the victory for but the keeper got down well to save his shot. It was then Chambers turn to go close with a free kick that looked destined for the top right hand corner. However at the last second the keeper acrobatically tipped it over for a corner.

Disaster then struck for Down after Motherwell forward Faulkner was felled inside the box. He dusted himself down and slammed home the penalty to make it 3-3. Then in the dying embers of the match Motherwell completed the comeback. Faulkner flicked the ball in after Down failed to clear the ball from a corner to make it 4-3 and Motherwell took home the Bowl trophy.

Teams- Davidson, Garland, Dillon,Marshall, Kelly, McClements, Sharvin, Chambers, White, Brown, Tobin. Subs: Cannavan, Mitchell, Bates, Nelson, Graham, McArthur, McCloy.

Premier ease past OC Blues

Down entered into Thursday’s Salver Semi-final against OC Blues from America hoping to get the win their play in the first three days, has merited. Down started well and Captain Byers had his header cleared of the line while Stewart and Rushe both had chances to give Down the lead.

On 20 minutes Down got their just rewards for an impressive start after Left back Neale slid Lennox through on the goalkeeper who showed excellent composure to take it round the OC Blues goalkeeper and give Down a deserved 1-0 lead.

It was 2-0 shortly after Dupree outwitted the OC Blues full-back who subsequently shoved him to the ground. The referee had no choice but to award a Down penalty that Salley converted for his second goal in consecutive days. Rushe who was causing the OC Blues went close just before the break but as the sides entered the half time interval the score remained 2-0, with Down in firm control.

The second half was a lot scrappier than the first half but Down remained in control. The only major incident of the second half occurred when a Foster pass back was picked up by Down goalkeeper Morrow. The referee dubiously awarded OC Blues an indirect free kick 8 yards from the Down goal. The OC Blues forward smashed the ball towards the net but Morrow and his defence did well to clear the danger.

That was the last major incident of the match as Down comfortably progressed into Friday’s final against Bohemians.

 

Team: Morrow, Foster, Byers, Stewart, Neale, Khalid, Dempster, Dupree, Lennox, Rushe, Salley Subs: Kane, Turkington,Noble-walker, Johnston, McGovern, Drylie, Newell.

 

 

Junior in impressive form against strong Japan side

Down took on the Japan football academy in the Semi-final of the Shield on a wet and miserable afternoon in Clough.

Kyle Spiers’ team found themselves 1-0 down again early on, after Sharvin gave away a free kick on the edge of the Down box. The Japan forward dusted himself off and drilled his effort through the wall into the right hand corner of the net.

Japan almost doubled their lead when their number 10 picked up a loose ball on the edge of the Down box and fizzed in a low drive which Cannavan in the Down goal was equal to.

Down equalised shortly after following a rampaging Jack White run down the left hand side saw him fizz the ball across the Japan box. The ball bounced about before the Japan defender directed the ball into his own net to make it 1-1.
Down made it two goals in two minutes and in doing so took full control of the semi final thanks to a Leo Brown header from a Jack White cross. It was the big strikers fourth goal in 3 matches this week.

Brown almost added to his tally but his header from a McArthur cross went just over and the first half ended with Down leading 2-1.

The second half begun and Down found themselves conceding early on again after a neat interchange down he left hand side saw the Japan forward slip it across to his strike partner, who made no mistake with his finish to make it 2-2.

The goal seemed to jolt Down back into life as they looked to re-take control of the Semi-final tie. They almost retook the lead minutes later when Brown who was a threat all afternoon took the ball on his chest, drove through the Japan defence but his finish went just past the post. McArthur went even closer shortly after after he beat his man but his finish hit the outside of the post.

Down were rewarded for their efforts as White thumped in a header from a McClements corner to make it 3-2. White was at it again minutes later after the dangerous McArthur was brought down inside the Japan box. White dispatched the spot kick and got his second of the match, sealing Down’s place in the final of the Shield.

Canavan, Kelly, McCloy, Dillon, White, Sharvin, McClements,Mitchell, Bates, Brown, McArthur.Subs: Garland, Chambers, Graham, Marshall, Davidson, Nelson, Tobin.

Premier side unlucky to draw against the Craig Bellamy Foundation!

Down started the brighter of the two sides as they looked to win their first game of the 2014 Dale Farm Milk Cup against the Craig Bellamy foundation. Rushe tested the keeper after being slid through by Drylie. Left back Neale then robbed his opposite number before fizzing in a low drive but the keeper was equal to the effort.

Down remained on top for the rest of the half and got their just rewards for a strong first half performance after Jody MCGovern converted the rebound of a Lee Newell shot to give County Down a 1-0 lead at half time.

The second half kicked off in much the same vein with Down on top and Johnston almost made it 2-0 after he was released through on goal by McGovern’s flick of the right boot. Rushe went close soon after but he hit his shot straight at the keeper.

Down were then punished for their slack finishing after Craig Bellamy Foundation broke up the other end, following neat interplay in the middle of the park played their forward through and he cooly slotted it past the onrushing Kane in the Down goal to make it 1-1.

Substitute Salley who had been Lively since coming on almost scored a cracker, rasping in a half-volley but the keeper acrobatically tipped it over. From the resulting corner Stewart was man-handled in the box and the referee blew up for a penalty that Adam Salley smashed in to give Down the lead again.

The lead was short lived after the ball was whipped in from the right, landing at the Craig Bellamy Foundation striker’s feet and he thanks to the good fortune of a ricochet equalised to the delight of the boys from Sierra Leone.

Down huffed and puffed in the final minutes but despite the pressure they placed on the boys from Sierra Leone they failed to hit the winner.

Teams:Kane, Foster, Byers, Neale, Walker, Dempster, Mcgovern, Drylie, Johnston, Newell, Rushe. Subs: Morrow, Dupree, Khalid, Lennox, Salley, Stewart.

Junior lads unlucky in defeat!

With hopes of progressing into the last four alive and well after sharvin’s late winner the previous day Down took on Brentford at Anderson Park in Coleraine needing another victory.

However things did not go to plan in the opening stages as Brentford raced into a 3-0 lead. It all started after 5 minutes after a cross from the right hand side was headed in by the Brentford forward.

It was not long before it was 2-0 after another cross in from the right was volleyed in again by the Brentford forward. Things then went from bad to worse after the Brentford forward picked up a loose ball and drilled his shot into the top right hand corner from 20 yards to make it 3-0.

Hope was restored when Leo Brown picked up a loose ball and rifled it in from 20 yards to make it 3-1. Minutes later Down were at it again after Nelson crossed the ball into Brown who made no mistake with the finish to make it 3-2. It seemed inevitable that Down would complete the comeback before half time but Brentford held out to head into the break still in front.

The second half begun how the first half ended with Down in the ascendency as Garland went close following neat play from chambers on the middle of the park set him free.

However disaster struck as Brentford, against the run of play made it 4-2. The goal occurred after an incisive counter-attack led to a melee inside the Down box resulting in the ball falling to the Brentford forward who duly lobbed it over the onrushing Davidson in the Down goal.

After the sucker punch of the fourth goal the game petered out but Kyle Spiers can be proud of the way his side played against a professional outfit, taking comfort in the fact that on another day things could have ended very differently.

Teams: Davidson, Kelly, Dillon, Marshall, White, Chambers, Sharvin, McClements, Nelson, Brown, Garland. Substitutes: Cannavan, Mitchell, McArthur, Bates, Tobin, Graham.