O'Neills Foyle Cup glory for Maiden City Academy U12's

Maiden City Academy U12 manager Stephen Parkhouse says he used his own playing days in the O’Neill’s Foyle Cup to motivate his players.

John Murphy from O'Neill's pictured with the Maiden City Academy team which lifted the O'Neill's Foyle Cup Under-12's trophy at the Brandywell on Saturday. Picture by Keith Moore
John Murphy from O'Neill's pictured with the Maiden City Academy team which lifted the O'Neill's Foyle Cup Under-12's trophy at the Brandywell on Saturday. Picture by Keith Moore

The striker, an Irish League winner with Glentoran during a distinguished playing career, still has fond memories of lifting the U12 Foyle Cup a few decades ago and admits he may have mentioned his victory a few times during this week’s tournament.

“Listen, I wind the boys up all the time by saying to them if we don’t win it this week then I’ll tell them how it feels,” he laughed after his side’s weekend win.

“I’m delighted for the boys, they’ve had a long week. It was tough with the heat and the games but it is a great competition and as it’s on our doorstep, it’s one that we can really enjoy with not too much cost to ourselves or parents travelling to games.”

Maiden City Academy under-12's player Aedan Smith goes down in the penalty area under pressure from Coleraine's George McClean. Picture by Keith Moore

Parkhouse was thrilled that his young side saw off Coleraine in Saturday’s final thanks to goals from Jay Curry, Aedan Smith (2) and Kai Anderson and despite the Bannsiders bringing the score back to 4-3 through Keelan Walker, Luca Kearney and Conor Wilson, City held on for the deserved victory.

“It was a great week and I’m delighted for the boys because they train hard all year round,” admitted Parkhouse, “We don’t have a calendar month when we’re off so we’re in all year round.

"The boys deserve it and so do the parents who also make big efforts travelling and getting around to games, I’m delighted for everybody.”

The ex-Institute and Derry City striker knows how important it is to have the competition return after the a Covid enforced absence and says he hopes that some of his young players will go on and play senior football in the future.

Parkhouse believes Maiden City will continue to strive to improve and although it wasn’t talked about all week, he is aware that scouts from all across Ireland and the UK would have been present throughout the week watching players.

“Getting the Foyle Cup back was massive for the city and the whole north west, you could feel the buzz about the place this week,” he said.

“This year’s tournament has got bigger, there are more teams involved. I know ourselves personally we have 22 teams and we’re delighted with that and with how it has gone and also how everyone has behaved and carried themselves because that’s important as well.

“We have always put a big emphasis on our youth so if we can start cracking on a bit at senior level now, then these boys will have a platform to maybe go into senior football.

Scouts and stuff like that is something we never mentioned to the players because we don’t want them to feel under pressure or do something that they don’t normally wouldn’t do and in the most part they do listen.

“But, yeah, the Foyle Cup gives all the players in the city a platform to go and express themselves as a player while under a bit of pressure.

“It’s very easy when no one is watching to play well and play against so called weaker teams but to do it on the stage of the Foyle Cup, when there’s a bit of pressure, that sometimes can show you if someone has got the mentality to be a senior player,” he concluded.

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