Gillespie backs returning Man United to be a SuperCupNI hit

Pictured at the launch from left to right, Jackie Fullerton, Guest of Honour Keith Gillespie, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Paul Reid, Victor Leonard, SuperCup NI and Stephen Watson.
Pictured at the launch from left to right, Jackie Fullerton, Guest of Honour Keith Gillespie, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Paul Reid, Victor Leonard, SuperCup NI and Stephen Watson.

DOUBLE winner Keith Gillespie reckons his former club, Manchester United will continue to be a force at the SuperCupNI which kicks-off on July 22nd next.

The ex-Northern Ireland winger, who won the international youth tournament in a United team featuring David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt, last night welcomed the Old Trafford club's return to the event after a two-year absence

"I'm pleased they have reconsidered and come back in the Junior competition," he said at the official launch of this summer's 35th tournament in Ballymena.

"United have such fervent support in Northern Ireland and their teams have always been a massive draw for fans every July when the SuperCupNI kicks off.

"I know that even when they didn't come here for a couple of years, relationships with the organisers remained strong and friendly which is a tribute to the people who run the event who I know are highly respected at United."

Gillespie won the Junior title with Dungannon Swifts in 1989 and lifted the Premier title in the famous Manchester United side of 1991.

“It is great to see the excitement among young players preparing for the competition. I know that in Northern Ireland, representing your County at the competition is a huge honour and the goal of every schoolboy footballer.” added the ex-United and Newcastle United midfielder who was capped 86 times for his country.

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Paul Reid revealed that last year's winners from the Premier section, O’Higgins from Chile, are back to defend their title and Right To Dream from Ghana, winners from the Junior section, are sending a team to participate in this years Premier section.

For the second year, as part of the tournament, women’s football will showcase two matches with Northern Ireland taking on Wales prior to the main competition.

"I am sure you would agree that this tournament promises to be every bit as exciting as previous years," said Councillor Reid who also congratulated the organising committee for their hard work throughout the year to deliver this tournament.

Chairman Victor Leonard said: "We owe our supporters a huge debt of gratitude for backing us for more than three decades. This event is all about them."

The SuperCupNI begins with an Under-19 Northern Ireland v Wales women's game on Saturday, July 22nd at Ballymena Showgrounds, followed by an Under-18 clash between Northern Ireland and Manchester United at Coleraine Showgrounds.

The traditional parade of competing teams through Coleraine will be on Sunday, July 23rd, concluding with finals night at Ballymena Showgrounds on Friday, July 28th.

Fixtures for the first three days are as follows:

JUNIOR

MONDAY 24th JULY

Noon - Swindon Town v North Dublin SL (Clough, Ballymena); Co Fermanagh v ClubNI (Anderson Park, Coleraine); First Choice Soccer v Sheffield Utd (Riada 2, Ballymoney). 1:30 - NC Elite v Middlesbrough (Castlerock); Co Londonderry v Chivas Guadalajara (Scroggy Road, Limavady); Cherry Orchard v Co Down (Parker Avenue, Portrush); Southampton v Co Antrim (Riada Stadium, Ballymoney); 3:30 - GPS Bayern v MS Select (Anderson Park, Coleraine); Co Tyrone v Plymouth Argyle (Scroggy Road, Limavady); 5:00 - Dundalk SL v Strikers FC (Castlerock); 7:00 - Rangers v Co Armagh (Showgrounds, Coleraine); 7:30 - Colina v Manchester Utd (Seahaven, Portstewart).

TUESDAY 25th JULY

Noon - Southampton v Cherry Orchard (Clough, Ballymena); Strikers FC v Swindon Town (Riada 2, Ballymoney); Co Armagh v North Dublin SL (Broughshane, Ballymena); Dundalk SL v NC Elite (Anderson Park, Coleraine). 1:30 - Chivas Guadalajara v Plymouth Argyle (Parker Avenue, Portrush); Co Tyrone v MS Select (Castlerock). 3:30 - Co Londonderry v First Choice Soccer (Showgrounds, Coleraine); Middlesbrough v GPS Bayern (Clough, Ballymena); 5:00 - Co Down v Co Antrim (Showgrounds, Ballymena); Sheffield Utd v ClubNI (Castlerock); 7:00 - Colina v Rangers (Scroggy Road, Limavady); 7:30 - Co. Fermanagh v Manchester Utd (Showgrounds, Ballymena).

WEDNESDAY 26th JULY

Noon - Plymouth Argyle v NC Elite (Clough, Ballymena); MS Select v North Dublin SL (Riada Stadium, Ballymoney); Co Armagh v Swindon Town (Anderson Park, Coleraine); Cherry Orchard v GPS Bayern (Castlerock). 1:30 Middlesbrough v Club NI (Broughshane). 3:00 - Chivas Guadalajara v Sheffield United (Clough), Co Tyrone v Co Londonderry (Anderson Park, Coleraine); Co Down v Colina (Castlerock), Co Fermanagh v Dundalk SL (Riada 2, Ballymoney). 5:00 - Strikers v Co Antrim (Parker Avenue, Portrush); Rangers v First Choice Soccer (Showgrounds, Ballymena); Manchester Utd v Southampton (Showgrounds, Coleraine).

PREMIER

MONDAY 24th JULY

2:00 - Strikers FC v Co Armagh (The Warren, Portstewart); Komazawa Uni FC v O'Higgins (Broughshane, Ballymena). 5:00 - Beijing DCFC Morning Star Utd v Co Tyrone (Broughshane, Ballymena); First Choice Soccer v Co Down (Parker Avenue, Portrush); Otago v Club America (The Warren, Portstewart). 7:00 - Right to Dream v Vendee (Clough, Ballymena); Osasco v Co Londonderry (Scroggy Road, Limavady); GPS Bayern v Co Fermanagh (Riada Stadium, Ballymoney) 7:30 - Newcastle Utd v Co Antrim (Showgrounds, Ballymena).

TUESDAY 25th JULY

1:30 - First Choice Soccer v GPS Bayern (The Warren, Portstewart). 3:00 - Komazawa Uni FC v Co Armagh (Riada 2, Ballymoney). 4:30 - Vendee v Co Down (The Warren, Portstewart). 5:00 - Newcastle Utd v Beijing DCFC Morning Star Utd (Riada Stadium, Ballymoney); Right to Dream v Co Fermanagh (Broughshane, Ballymena); Strikers FC v Osasco (Parker Avenue, Portrush). 7:00 - O'Higgins v Co Tyrone (Showgrounds, Coleraine); Otago v Co Londonderry Seahaven, Portstewart); Club America v Co Antrim (Riada Stadium, Ballymoney).