Press Launch of O'Neills Foyle Cup
The huge crowd which attended Magee University for the 2023 press launch of this year's O’Neills Foyle Cup were delighted to hear of the massive increase in entries in this year's tournament- up from an entry of 450 teams last year to 600 this year.
The special Guest of Honour was Liverpool and N. Ireland star, Conor Bradley, who spoke of his wonderful memories of playing in the tournament.
I have been very fortunate to have such a quality of tournament like the O’Neills Foyle Cup, here on my doorstep and I have the fondest of memories of playing in this tournament. It certainly contributed to my development as a youth player and I wish all the young players playing in this year's event every success. Enjoy the tournament and create wonderful memories for yourself.
John Murphy speaking on behalf of the tournament sponsors O’Neills, stated his company's delight in being involved in the tournament.
'We are excited to once again partner with the Foyle Cup to bring this fantastic tournament to young footballers from all over the world. We believe that events like the O’Neills Foyle Cup are vital for the development of young players, and we look forward to seeing the talented young athletes who will be competing in 2023 and we wish them all the best of luck! We have to thank everyone involved who helps makes the tournament happen as it is a massive team effort, and we have no doubt it will be another successful year. This is our fourth year of sponsoring this wonderful tournament and there is no more moving a spectacle than seeing the excitement and joy on the kids' faces as they colourfully parade from here in Magee Campus to Guildhall Square to be welcomed by the city's Mayor.'
For the tournament organisers, the Derry & District Youth FA, Shaun Taylor, expressed their delight in having such a talented Liverpool player attend the Press Launch.
'We are particularly pleased to have with us today, one of the finest young players on Liverpool FC's books and delighted that he is from Northern Ireland, Castlederg, Conor Bradley. What Conor has already achieved in his short professional career is immense - he has just turned 20 years of age. We especially thank his mother Linda, for acting on our behalf, to ensure her son is with us today. She can be very proud of this young man.
'Those who witnessed Conor playing football in his development years, were always impressed not only with his undoubted ability but more importantly his calmness, creativity and intelligence when under pressure - as Jurgen Klopp most recently stated-' Everybody speaks positively about him. He is our boy, which I like a lot. He has a super mentality, which is extremely helpful, and all the rest will come – and we are all pretty sure about that.'
Shaun continued, 'The event itself this year, witnesses its highest ever number of entries 600 teams - up from last year's record entry of 450 teams. The financial benefit this event brings to the local economy is in excess of £3,000,000 - with more than 14,000 bed- nights occupied on a full board basis and teams booking in all over the North West region - in hotels, universities, hostels, B&Bs, AirB&Bs, retreat centres, glamping sites etc, from Derry to Coleraine, to Maghera, to Letterkenny to Buncrana - all across the North West region. Overall, the event will attract over 10,500 participants plus coaches, parents and family members.'
Philip Devlin, PRO for the event added, 'In the context of where we have come from, 25 years on from the Good Friday Agreement, is there a more pleasing sight than our truly wonderful spectacle of colour, joy and excitement as kids parade through our city - particularly when you think over the years how parades have contributed to unrest. In the O’Neills Foyle Cup, your colour, your religion, your politics do not matter - it is an exciting celebration of our youth and what they have to offer. They are our future!!
'I know that all of us are extremely proud of what the O’Neills Foyle Cup is achieving - and despite all our voluntary efforts- this event would not be the success it is, without the widespread support of so many groups and organisations - all those colleges and clubs that allow us to use their facilities free of charge; both Derry & Strabane District Council and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, not just for their financial support but also for the high quality of playing surface provided during our event and the co-operation of so many council staff with whom we share our pride.
'We also thank the Executive Office, Tourism NI and Dept for Social Development for their support over the years - despite the cutbacks and the absence of MLAs from the Assembly, we are still hoping for the support this year. Locally, we have been supported by Derry Credit Union, Inner City Trust, Brunswick Superbowl, Seagate and O’Neills Sports. A particular word of thanks goes to Malachy O Neill of Ulster University, for all they contribute - facilitating today's Press Launch, and the Opening Parade in this wonderful campus and for the use of accommodation and pitches, both here in Magee and in Coleraine.
'Finally, a huge thank you to our referees who under the watchful eye of Dick Tucker and Ken Lowry, travel from far and wide to be part of the biggest team present at this tournament.'