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SuperCupNI returns to The Showgrounds

THIS summer the thrills and spills of the SuperCupNI finals day will make a historic return to its spiritual home at the Coleraine Showgrounds following a 14-year hiatus…

This will see all three showpiece finals of the Boys’ Premier, Junior, and Minor sections of the prestigious youth football tournament return to the Ballycastle Road venue for the first time since 2010.

The ultra-competitive  finals’ day will bring a fantastic week of top-class youth football to a dramatic close with a thrilling day of action in front of thousands of local football fans at the home of Coleraine Football Club.

The SuperCupNI Finals’ Day moved to the Ballymena Showgrounds in 2010 after tournament organisers who were forced to make the switch due to facility restrictions at the Coleraine Showgrounds.

But now, after a 14-year absence, they are preparing for an emotional return to Ballycastle Road as part of a minor refresh of tournament venues aimed at expanding the geographical spread and accessibility of the tournament.

This includes replacing the Ballymena Showgrounds with venues in Kells and Broughshane in Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, and the introduction of a venue in Bushmills as a new venue in Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.

The girls’ tournament will continue to be hosted across various venues in Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council with the Girls’ Premier and Girls’ Junior finals taking place at Ballyclare Comrades’ new 3G pitch at Dixon Park.

The historic return to the Coleraine Showgrounds is thanks to the collaborative effort of the SuperCupNI Tournament Management Team and its Board of Directors, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, and Coleraine Football Club.

Councillor Steven Callaghan, Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, said: “We are thrilled to welcome the SuperCupNI finals day back to Coleraine. The Borough has always been proud to host games over the tournament’s 41-year history and have some of the world’s best youth teams play here.

“The SuperCupNI is one of the most popular events in Northern Ireland’s calendar and attracts thousands of visitors from across the world. For the Borough to have the showpiece finals day return to Coleraine is wonderful news and we can’t wait to welcome the teams and fans to Causeway Coast and Glens this summer.”

Victor Leonard, Chairperson of the SuperCupNI added: “It’s fantastic news to welcome the SuperCupNI finals day back to the Coleraine Showgrounds. The town of Coleraine has always been regarded as the tournament’s spiritual home, and it’s a real coup to be able to bring the traditional showpiece finals day back to Coleraine.

“We are grateful to have had a venue like the Ballymena Showgrounds which was able to step in and host the finals over the last 14 years by having the facilities required to play multiple matches back-to-back for live television coverage, as well as accommodate the large crowds we always get for those games.

“However, hosting the finals day at the Coleraine Showgrounds is not just a nostalgic return, but a strategic move by the tournament organisers. We want to heighten excitement among fans and increase attendance levels by bringing the deciders of the Boys’ Premier, Junior and Minor sections back to one venue for a bumper day of highly competitive and thrilling action.

“This homecoming is set to make the 2024 SuperCupNI another special tournament in our storied history, and we’re immensely grateful to Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and Coleraine Football Club for their pivotal roles in making this happen.”

The Coleraine Showgrounds, with a rich tradition of hosting SuperCupNI matches since the tournament began in 1983, has undergone significant upgrades to enable it to host the prestigious finals day once again.

This investment by Coleraine Football Club is part of a broader redevelopment strategy aimed at transforming the Coleraine Showgrounds into a hub for the local community.

Simon Magee, Chief Executive of Coleraine Football Club, said: “Hosting the SuperCupNI finals day at the Coleraine Showgrounds is a tremendous honour for Coleraine Football Club. We have worked hard as a club to improve the facilities at the Coleraine Showgrounds, and we now have a stadium equipped to handle events of this scale.

“We’ve not only installed a brilliant playing surface, but we’ve also laid out ambitious plans to transform the Coleraine Showgrounds into a modern multi-use stadium. The return of the finals day provides a substantial boost as we advance towards this vision.

“With the SuperCupNI deeply rooted in Coleraine, we’re excited and proud to continue playing a pivotal role in a tournament that impacts youth football and our region.

“It will be a privilege to host some of the world’s best young talent and welcome fans from all over to the showpiece finals of one of the most prestigious cup competitions in youth football.”

The SuperCupNI – now in its 41st year – will feature elite girls’ and boys’ teams from around the world including English Premiership big hitters Manchester United, Brighton and Hove Albion and West Ham United, as well as English Championship sides Middlesbrough, Blackburn Rovers and Plymouth Argyle.

The line-up also includes Scottish Premiership rivals Celtic and Rangers, as well as the Bahrain National Team, Mexican top-flight side Club Deportivo Toluca and the UAE based Barca Academy Dubai, a satellite academy of FC Barcelona.

They will go head-to-head with top opposition from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in a week of competitive matches across multiple age groups at venues across Causeway Coast and Glens, Mid and East Antrim and Antrim and Newtownabbey.

The 2024 SuperCupNI will kick off with its traditional parade and opening ceremony on Sunday, July 21, with the prestigious youth football tournament closing with finals day on Friday, July 26.

The group stages and knockout rounds will be held at venues across Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.