Northern Ireland international and Aberdeen winger, Niall McGinn said he was 'honoured' to attend the gala launch of the 2019 International O’Neills Foyle Cup in Derry.
The former Derry City and Celtic winger returned to the banks of the Foyle, flying in from San Francisco where he was continuing his rehabilitation on his ankle injury, as special guest of honour for the launch of the prestigious annual youth soccer tournament which will take place from July 22nd-27th.
Niall – who played in the tournament with Dungannon Swifts – praised the O’Neills Foyle Cup for the brilliant opportunities it has provided for young players to showcase their footballing talents.
“I have great memories of playing in the Foyle Cup and the excitement of meeting players and coaches from both the local and pro teams who come to play in this competition each year,” he said.
The 31-year-old winger who was part of the Derry City side which won the League Cup in 2008, said: “I am honoured to be part of the 2019 launch of this fantastic tournament which gave myself and many other local kids the opportunity to progress into professional football clubs both at home and abroad.”
The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Michaela Boyle, also paid tribute to the O’Neills Foyle Cup which will see a record 400 plus teams from across the world compete in approximately 1,550 matches played over six days of the football festival.
“Derry City and Strabane District Council is delighted to support the O’Neills Foyle Cup which is one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in the country and a key event not just for our own city and district but also for our neighbouring Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council," she said.
“It is also a major economic driver for the north west, particularly with regards to hotel occupancy for the visiting teams and officials who require accommodation during the week-long tournament. We wish Michael Hutton and his team continued success with this year’s event and I look forward to joining the O’Neills Foyle Cup parade and attending the matches next month.”
Speaking on behalf of the title sponsors, O’Neills International Sports Company Ltd, John Murphy of O’Neills, said: “As a local company based in the north west, O’Neills are proud sponsors of this home-grown tournament which attracts hundreds of teams from across the world.
“This is the second year of our sponsorship of this prestigious international youth soccer event, now approaching its 30th year, putting the north west firmly on the map. We have no doubt this year’s event will be another massive success. It truly is a fantastic team effort in every sense of the word.”
The O’Neills Foyle Cup will take place in the Derry, Strabane and Causeway Coast & Glens Council areas from July 22nd- to July 27th 2019 with a record 400 plus teams from across Ireland, the UK, mainland Europe and the U.S. playing on 45 pitches at 35 different venues.
Approximately 1,550 matches will be played over six days of the football festival and 6,000 plus participants are expected to take part in this year's parade through the historic Walled City on July 23rd.
With the tournament now just six weeks away from kick-off, Michael Hutton, founder and Chairman of the O’Neills Foyle Cup organising committee, said excitement is already building for the event.
He said: “We are very excited to be launching the 2019 O’Neills Foyle Cup with Northern Ireland International Niall McGinn having travelled back from San Francisco following rehabilitation for his recent ankle ligament injury and we wish him a speedy return to Aberdeen FC.
"It's always great to have a guest of honour who has come through the Foyle Cup ranks themselves and appreciates the important role this tournament has played in helping young players achieve their dreams of playing top flight football with both local and cross channel clubs.
“Niall is a great example to all young footballers of what can be achieved in their careers as a professional footballer currently with Aberdeen FC and previously with Celtic also in the SPL, Derry City, Brentford and South Korean club Gwangju FC, having come through the ranks with Dungannon Swifts in his own home town.
The O’Neills Foyle Cup Chairman added: “We are delighted with the entries this year which includes clubs of the standard of Wolves, Hibernian FC, Hearts FC, Patrick Thistle, Dundee Utd, Barnsley FC, Sheffield Utd, Altrincham - to name but a few, as well as teams from France, Finland and the United States. We also welcome a large number of entrants from Irish league and Airtricity league teams.”
He also thanked all of the event’s key stakeholders and sponsors including O’Neills, Tourism N.I., The Executive Office, Dept. For Communities, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Seagate, Brunswick Moviebowl, Derry Credit Union, Ulster University and Inner City Trust for their invaluable support.