A NUMBER of Ballymoney United Youth Academy teams enjoyed a successful trip to Dublin, where they took on some big names including Home Farm and Shamrock Rovers.
Under8s, 9s and 10s players, parents and coaches travelled to Dublin to take part in a series of games.
First up for the Under 8s was the renowned Lourdes Celtic team, and in this match the team put in their best display of the season against a Celtic team who haven’t lost a game all year.
Rhys Keys helped himself to four goals, with the other goal coming from a smashing effort from Aaron Archibald. The standard of football was outstanding, with Adam Faulkner and Scott Blair instrumental in everything.
Logan Holmes was his usual hard working self with Noah Black and Aaron reading the game well. This was a fabulous display from the boys and showed how well they are progressing.
Next up was Lourdes Celtic Sunday team, again full of technically gifted players. In another high tempo game, the boys scored through an excellent Gareth Getty finish but still trailed at half time. A big improvement in the second half enabled Rhys Keys to add to his goal scoring exploits of the previous day as he notched two, Adam Faulkner was also rewarded with his excellent displays over the weekend when he finished well from a dangerous delivery from Aaron Archibald.
The next challenge was Shamrock Rovers, and in this game Scott Blair was unplayable as he showed great strength and determination by constantly working up and down the flank to provide quality balls into the front line. He was again ably supported by Adam Faulkner as they continued to take the game to the Dublin giants.
Logan Holmes also showed the depth to his game, scoring two goals from distance using both feet. Rhys again added to his glowing reputation with another goal, before Adam added to his goal in the previous game to give the boys a stronghold. Tegan McMaster entered the fray at half time, and finished well to score his first goal of the weekend.
Jack Christie was showing his versatility as he slotted into to midfield with no fuss and provided the platform for the boys to control the game. This was another tough game in which the boys performed at a high level.
The boys completed their tour of Dublin against Home Farm. In another tough game the boys worked tirelessly and Gareth Getty was again on the score sheet.
Nine tired but excited young men landed at Lourdes Celtic on Friday afternoon, and the disappointment of the Cup being cancelled was soon forgotten. The boys suffered from the long journey and couldn’t come to terms with the physicality and pace of the Dublin side and trailed at half time. The second half was much more like the boys as they found their legs and they battled hard and played some better football, losing this half 2-1.
Saturday morning saw another trip to Lourdes, this time to play a younger team. This game was played on 3G and despite conceding three, Ballymoney never trailed nor ever looked in any danger and ran out comfortable 7-3 winners.
The hospitality from Lourdes Celtic particularly on the Friday was much appreciated. It was back in the bus after lunch and the short trip to play Shamrock Rovers, this again was on astroturf and was a cracking match, the second half was played as nine-a-side, giving all the boys the chance to play. Ballymoney won 2-0 with late strikes.
Sunday saw them stop at Home Farm for a hastily-arranged friendly; the Under 9s played the first half only against the hosts Under 8s and dominated it, winning 5-1.
Ballymoney started the game slow after the long bus trip down, Lourdes Celtic were very strong and went a goal up early on and the Toon were finding the larger pitch hard to get to grips with.
As normal, the boys fought hard, but were undone by two quick goals. Ruari O’Boyle could only watch as both goals took deflections off the pitch, wrong footing the Ballymoney keeper.
This seemed to get the boys started as they went straight up the pitch and scored, Finn McLaughlin hit a great strike, only to see the keeper make a great save, but there was Daniel Beckett to pounce to pull one back. Conal McGothigan and Jude Bolton were under a lot of pressure, but they stuck at their job well with Joshua Morrison And Cathal Darragh always there to lend a hand when needed. H/T 3-1.
The second half saw Padraig Kelly, Declan Convery and Mark Faulkner on, and what an impact the boys made working hard and giving the team fresh legs. Kelly and Faulkner went close, but found the Lourdes Celtic keeper in fine form. Convery made some last-ditch tackles, but the Toon got caught on the break twice in the last five minutes. A good start to the trip but couldn’t get used to the larger pitch.
The second day saw Ballymoney take on Lourdes Celtic again, but on the 3G pitch. The Toon were in better form and had most of the opening attacks with Cathal Darragh and Mark Faulkner going close, but as the day before they went behind again to a deflected goal leaving O’Boyle with no chance. Padraig Kelly was in the centre of midfield and was working his socks off and he saw a shot go just wide. The defence of Declan Convery and Jude Bolton weren’t putting a foot, wrong winning tackle after tackle leaving the game 1-0 at H/T.
In the second half, it was more of the same with Ballymoney having most of the possession. McLaughlin, Morrison, Kelly and Beckett all went close but couldn’t get the ball in the net. McGothigan pushed forward in the last few minutes, but they couldn’t score.
The second match of the day saw Ballymoney take on Shamrock Rovers and the boys were really looking forward to this match and it showed right from the kick-off. With a large crowd watching ,the Toon were winning every challenge and didn’t have to wait long to score, Finn McLaughlin stepped up to take a free-kick and he made no mistake dispatching the ball into the net leaving the keeper with no chance 1-0.
This was what the boys needed with Cathal Darragh giving the Rovers defence a hard time. Mark Faulkner picked up the ball and released Joshua Morrison, and he wasn’t going to miss ,finishing from a tight angle 2-0. The Toon were now starting to look weary and but for Padraig Kelly, Conall McGothigan and Jude Bolton in defence, Shamrock Rovers would have got back into the game.
The second half saw Daniel Beckett and Declan Convery add fresh legs. Another great move from the Toon saw Darragh come close but for all his hard work, he just couldn’t beat the keeper. Ballymoney won a corner and the ball was cleared only for McGothigan to unleash a super shot into the bottom corner giving the keeper no chance.
The boys were now shattered but they didn’t want to give away a goal and with Ruari O’Boyle in great form, Shamrock Rovers just couldn’t beat the Ballymoney keeper. What a great team display from the boys and a brilliant result.
The U-10s began their Dublin tour with a trip to the prestigious Lourdes Celtic youth academy, the U10 league leaders and last year’s Dublin Cup winners. This was expected to be a tough challenge and proved to be just that when Lourdes opened the scoring with a sweet passing move.
Ballymoney were not fazed, and came close to equalising through Cameron Milliken. Money conceded two more before Adam McComb and Joel Christie showed their class, carving Lourdes apart with some quick one touch passing for Christie to finish with a fiercely struck effort, leaving the score a respectable 3-1 at halftime.
The second half was a more evenly matched affair with both sides attempting to play football on the ground showing some great technical ability. Money were unlucky to concede two more through a corner and an unfortunate rebound of the Lourdes number 8. Aaron Dallat, surging down the left wing, was fouled on the touchline leaving Christie to try his luck from 25 yards with the resulting freekick which he dispatched with awesome accuracy into the top corner. This was a very impressive display against some top class opposition.
Day two saw Ballymoney again travel to Lourdes. Money started the game brightly, their passing display particularly from the front four of Cameron Milliken, Aaron Dallat, Adam McComb and Joel Christie was a delight to watch.
Scott Gardiner and Jacob Craig showed their defensive qualities and ball playing ability at the back were second to none. Jacob scored a fantastic header from a superbly-timed run to get on the end of a well struck Joel Christie corner.
Lourdes pulled one back before halftime, reminding the boys of the threat they posed. McComb, in cracking form, terrorised the Lourdes defence every time he got the ball and got a deserved goal when he was first to react to a rebounded shot from Aaron Dallat leaving the lads with a well deserved win.
For the second match of the day. the lads travelled to play one of the biggest clubs in Ireland in Shamrock Rovers.
Unfazed by the stature of the club they were about to face the boys once again started on the front foot and took the lead inside the first five minutes, when Christie won the ball, passed to Aaron Dallat who had the awareness to see McComb lurking on the edge of the box who finished in style with his second of the trip. Rovers were creating chances through their extremely quick counter attacking style of football but Thomas McNabb’s heroics in nets kept them off the score sheet until the 18 minute when they levelled the score.
The second half was again tightly contested with both sides in good form, but it was Money who once again took the lead after Milliken and Christie combined well to give Christie an opening which he sent powerfully into the net.
irelessly at the back to keep out the fast moving Rovers. Money’s task was made all the harder when McComb went off through injury but Matthew McNeil proved a very capable deputy showing what a versatile player he is. With four minutes left on the clock and to the despair of Money’s defence, Rovers found an equaliser.
The lads lost Milliken to an injury ,who was replaced by Ruairi O’Boyle. With the end of the game in sight, Dallat went on a rampaging run down the left flank beating three players on his way to the byline placed a perfectly-weighted pass to super sub Ruari who side-footed it past the Rovers’ keeper to end a fantastic performance.
On the final game of the tour, the lads travelled to the grounds of Home Farm another quality side synonymous with the Milk cup and former club of Liverpool legend Ronnie Whelan.
Both U10 teams were amalgamated for the final fixture to play in an unfamiliar 10-a-side formation.
This was a very tight contest with both teams evenly matched until Cameron Milliken popped up with a well-deserved first goal of the trip after a trademark run by Adam McComb.
The lads took their one goal advantage into halftime.
The second half continued in the same vain with Money changing personal frequently and all the lads giving 100 per cent in every position. Despite chances on both sides, the game remained 1-0 and was a super end to a fantastic tour.
All the boys who took part deserve tremendous credit and exemplary behaviour during the trip.