Rodgers confirms Celtic will return to Derry for Foyle Cup

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.

New Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has confirmed the Glasgow Bhoys will be back in Derry this summer to take part in the Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup which kicks off on July 18th and runs until Saturday, July 23rd.

Rodgers, himself a former Derry & District Youth player, is believed to have identified the annual competition as being able to play an important role in the development of young players at Celtic Park and has earmarked the club’s Under 14 side to return to Foyleside.

It is particularly pleasing to see present manager of Celtic – Brendan Rodgers – identify with the event by encouraging Celtic Under 14 team to compete

Michael Hutton, Foyle Cup Chairman

“More and more professional clubs are crossing the Irish Sea and it’s particularly pleasing to see present manager of Celtic – Brendan Rodgers – identify with the event by encouraging Celtic Under 14 team to compete,” explained Foyle Cup Chairman Michael Hutton.

“Other cross channel participants include Hearts, Partick Thistle, Sheffield Utd, Norwich City, Altrincham as well as FD Suomi from Finland and Landsdowne Boys and Everton America from New York.”

And it is not just on the pitch that the Foyle Cup makes its presence known. The event ranks as one of the most important in the year for those involved in hotel and tourism as it annually ensures hotels in the North West region experience high occupancy levels throughout the week of competition.

This year the event has attracted its highest ever entry of teams – 310 – and teams will travel from across the UK and Republic of Ireland to compete with entries received from as far away as Finland, and New York. The tournament continues to support the development of Ladies football with no fewer than 28 female teams entered in this week long event.

Not only will teams travel in large numbers to the city but most major clubs in the UK will be present during the week to scout talent. And it has proved a fruitful venture for most in the past with Micheal Martin (Charlton), Conor Quigley (Swansea), Sean Mullan (Shef Weds), Stephen Foster (Swansea), Joe Crowe (Norwich City) Ben Kennedy (Stevenage), Cormac Derry, Levi Ives and Josh Lynch (all Torquay) all gaining professional contracts with Cross Channel clubs in last two years.

Indeed over the years Robbie Keane, John O’Shea, Paddy McNair, Darron Gibson, Shay Givens, Paddy McCourt, Daniel Lafferty, James McClean, Stephen Ireland, John O’Shea and Kevin Kilbane - to name but a few - have all played at the event as young players

At the event’s recent launch former Ireland and RTE football analyst John Giles acknowledged the part that the Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup has played and continues to play in the development of young players for the International team.

“So many of our current Irish team have come through the Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup,” explained the former Leeds star, “I know the immense importance placed on this event by professional clubs in England and Scotland, as each club ensures their scouts are in attendance throughout the week.”

“This is a high profile competition which is obvious from the clubs involved in it. It is a wonderful testament to the strength of youth football in Ireland especially and a credit to all the people who have put so much work into it.

“I know the years of preparation that go into coaching the best out of our young players for any tournament. It’s a great experience and preparation for those players who will go onto gain professional contracts with cross-Channel clubs but also for the kids who remain here in Ireland and want to play. The Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup has so much to offer our senior clubs, North And South.”

The Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup began in 1992 as a one-day, eight team event and has blossomed into one of the most highly respected and biggest tournaments in the British Isles.

“There can be no doubt about the respect that the Foyle Cup has gained over the years,” continued Mr Hutton, “Our economy has been in recession and yet the competition continues to grow and prosper. This year we have 310 teams competing, which will be our highest ever entry. The number of teams competing has doubled in the last four years. This level of interest generates huge spending in the local economy, estimated at in excess of £1,600,000.

“I believe there are a number of factors that make the Foyle Cup attractive to clubs. The warmth and hospitality afforded all its visitors by the local people; the quality of service and accommodation provided by local hoteliers and B&Bs; the high standard of playing surface evident throughout the event; the friendly yet competitive nature of the football and lastly but by no means least, the planning, administration and organisation that goes into the event by so many of us who give of our services in a totally voluntary basis.

“There are no paid employees in the Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup – just a band of volunteers who strive hard to put on an event that all of us can be proud of and which puts forward a positive image of our city and the North West region.”

Mr Hutton also acknowledged all those who contributed to ensuring the event will be as successful as it has been in previous years - Derry City and Strabane District Council, Department for Communities, The Executive Office, Tourism NI, Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council, Hughes Insurance, Legea, Seagate, Inner City Trust, Brunswick Moviebowl and Derry Credit Union.

More details regarding this year’s event can be viewed on www.foylecup.com or Tel 02871359734