United under-14s into semi-finals of NIBFA Cup

Ballymena's Keenan Kearney (left) and Robbie Gilchrist come up against the Northend number 3. INBT13-255AC
Ballymena's Keenan Kearney (left) and Robbie Gilchrist come up against the Northend number 3. INBT13-255AC

Ballymena United under 14s were the weekend story at the Academy with a brilliant comeback win to make it to the last four of the NIBFA cup.

Coach Gary Twigg certainly enjoyed this Friday night victory, before his own semi-final success the following evening as he helped Portadown defeat Ballymena United in the Irish Cup.

Ballymena's Connor Lau challenges this Northend player for the ball. INBT13-256AC

Ballymena's Connor Lau challenges this Northend player for the ball. INBT13-256AC

The boys have had some great performances in the top tier of youth football this season and this was another highlight.

A successful weekend at the cub saw all sides unbeaten, the 15’s progressed to the semi finals of the NIBFA plate, there were draws for the u13’s and u11’s and a friendly win for the under 12’s.

The under 13 Lisburn league side also racked up the goals with a good victory on Saturday morning, while the senior 16’s fired in another five in another exciting display.

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Northend's Zac Clarke puts pressure on Ballymena's Connor Lau. INBT13-261AC

Northend's Zac Clarke puts pressure on Ballymena's Connor Lau. INBT13-261AC

BUYA 2, Roe Valley 2: The wee sky blues clawed their way back twice to claim a draw against a very useful Roe Valley team. Indeed had it not been for an inspired Valley keeper Ballymena would have emerged as comfortable winners.

After going a goal down in a minute Adam Watterson equalised from a Lewis Tennant through ball.

Valley gained the lead through a freekick but Mark Lowry unleased a powerful shot to restore parity. The Valley keeper then made saves from Joe Blair, Adam Millar, Billy Ewart, Tennant and Lowry to keep his team level. MoM - William Francey

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BUYA 2, Northend 1: A hard surface at Smithfield made it difficult for both sides to settle in this friendly.

Kyle Neill put United ahead with a tidy finish continuing his recent good form. Conor Louw was impressing in the midfield with goalkeeper Lewis Clewer also confident when called to action.

United’s forwards were still missing chances,and it was to cost the sky blues with an unfortunate equaliser, a clearance from Clewer cannoning off Adam Steel in defence before flying into the net.

Caolan Kearney did well and had an effort cleared off the line, Seanie Macintosh missed a number of chances before finally tucking home a close range effort.

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Maiden City 1, BUYA 1: The long journey to the North West didn’t affect the table-topping Sky Blues and when a good move through midfield released Bradley McCartney whose crossed pass found Ross McCausland he finished in style to put them one up.

As the game wore on Rian Lennon in the Ballymena goal made some remarkable saves but just when it looked like the three points were safe from a corner right on full time Maiden City denied the sky blues victory.

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Tri-Star 1, BUYA 3: Ballymena were slow to start and went down to an early goal after 10 minutes.

The second half was where Ballymena really turned the screw and scored three goals, two from Sean McKay and one from Conleth McGuckian.

Nathan Sloss who was really unfortunate not to score his first goal for Ballymena when he crashed his shot off the underside of the bar.

The boys deserved the win, they worked hard in all areas of the park and they matched and bettered Tristar with their movement. This win is a much deserved boost to the team and the management who now go through to the draw for the NIBFA Cup semi final, a massive achievement for the young players

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Warrenpoint 0, BUYA 1: Another semi final date for an Academy side beckons as the under 15’s recorded a quarter final plate win the sun at Mallusk. Some enterprising play from the sky blues early on as they looked dangerous every time they went forward.

Padraig Slane was making some jinking runs and was on hand to finish well after good work from Andrew Smith. United did make it hard for themselves after this although they did look a better side when they got their passing game going. Late on James Poston had an long range effort well saved as United finshed with a flourish.

The real success story of the day however were under 14 substitutes, Danny Louw, Sean McKay and Kieran O’Boyle who caught the eye after their introduction, Louw having his best outing for the 15s.

OTHER RESULTS

U-16 - Ballymena United 5, Warrenpoint 1; U-17 - Limavady 2, Ballymena United 1.