The cream of young soccer talent from across Ireland and the UK will assemble in Sligo this weekend for an unique three-day festival of youth football as the second annual Sligo Super Cup is staged at the Showgrounds.Hosted by Sligo Rovers and the Sligo/Leitrim Schoolboys Leagues, with the full backing of the SFAI, the u-12 tournament has attracted professional academies such as Derby County, Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday alongside Chesterfield FC, Glenavon from Belfast, Dublin District Schoolboys League, the Mayo League and the locals, Sligo/Leitrim.
With four teams in each of two qualifying groups, the programme includes sixteen matches across three action-packed days, starting on Friday evening. There will be four games on Friday, eight on Saturday with the four placings play-offs on Sunday morning. The grand final is timed for 11 a.m. on Sunday.
The honour of kicking off the tournament falls to last year’s champions, DDSL, who are celebrating their 75th anniversary this year. They begin the defence of their title against the Mayo League at 6.30p.m. in the Sean Fallon Centre.
But the main focus of attention on opening night will be Sligo/Leitrim’s mouth-watering opening tie against the might of Derby County on the Showgrounds main pitch at 8.30 p.m.
The locals face Sheffield Wednesday and Glenavon on Saturday, both in the Sean Fallon Centre.
Other stand-out ties on Saturday in a highly competitive programme include the high profile match-up of Derby and Sheffield Wednesday at 2 p.m., followed by DDSL against Ipswich Town at 3.30p.m , both on the main pitch.As well as showcasing Sligo’s state-of-the art soccer facilities, the tournament is also proving to be a shop window for the town generally. Derby have confirmed they will be bringing a group of 70 supporters for the week-end, while bookings from Dublin and Belfast are also quite heavy. It’s estimated at least 300 visitors will be in town especially for the tournament.
All of the young players and their coaches will be guests of Sligo Rovers at the Airtricity League game against Bohemians at the Showgrounds on Saturday night, where they will be introduced on the pitch at half time.
The tournament is the result of a mammoth feat of organisation by a dedicated committee, who have been planning and preparing over the past six months under the inspirational leadership of Tournament Director, Packie Lynch.
“We set out with a very definite plan, to make our tournament attractive to overseas academies, to provide a platform to help the development of young players and to showcase Sligo as a venue with the state-of-the-art facilities capable of hosting a prestige tournament.
“Everything went extremely well last year, and the feedback was hugely positive. We’re all set and raring to go again for what should be another memorable festival of youth football,” he said.