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NISFA News (20)

Belfast Primary Girls tournament

"Belfast Primary Schools Football Association held their second "girls only" event at the Ozone, Ormeau Park.

It took the form of a 7-a-side festival day and St. Matthew's came top with Orangefield taking second place.

A successful 5-a-side competition was held at Shankill Leisure Centre earlier in the year with St. Matthew's also topping that event."

Elizabeth Bryson 

Belfast Primary Schools Football Association 

Danske Bank Schools Cup Final

Seaview will play host to the Danske Bank NISFA U18s final on Monday as St Columb's College and St Patrick's Grammar School Downpatrick battle to lift the trophy.

St Columb's College were losing finalists last year and will be aiming to go one better as they come up against St Patrick's Grammar School who are in their first football final since 2001.

The captain of the Derry-Londonderry college is Institute player Nathan Harkin, who will be playing his last game for the school. However, he plans to leave on a high. He said: "It would mean everything. It'll be the last game for the school as I'll be moving on next year.

"I won it in fifth year and it was incredible. Losing in the final last year was hard to take so there is a big emphasis on this year."

The captain of St Patrick's Grammar School Downpatrick, Fintan Canavan, would love to get his hands on the trophy on Monday. He said: "I think it would be one of the greatest achievements of my football career and life. To play with the lads that I have grown up with the last seven years, there would be no better feeling and I hope we can do it.

"Hopefully we can become local heroes at school and in the town and surrounding area. That's the aim."

To find out more from the pair ahead of the final on Monday 19 March, which kicks off at 12pm, watch the video above.

Before the Danske Bank final Crusaders FC's Seaview stadium will be hosting the Belfast U16 Schools' Cup final between Edmund Rice College and De La Salle College (10am kick-off).

"It will be a fantastic occasion for all schools involved in our finals on Monday. I would like to thank the hard work of all teachers and pupils to getting to this stage in both our Belfast and Northern Ireland competitions and would like all players to enjoy the day and represent your schools with pride,” said Northern Ireland Schools' FA chairman Bob Nesbitt.

Entrance to the games will be £4 for adults and £2 for children.

Belfast Primary 5 aside competition

Belfast Primary Schools’ Football Association is indebted to Rainbow Communications for their continued sponsorship of the annual Indoor 5-a-side competition.  Rainbow Communications has been instrumental in the success of the competition having sponsored the event for a number of years and we thank them for the continued support.  

The competition is by far the most popular event in our calendar with 37 schools entering in 2018.  Congratulations to Holy Child in winning the shield, the finals of which were held on Wednesday 21st February at the Shankill Leisure Centre.  

Mervyn Bryson (Chairperson)

Girls bank on 11 aside competiton

The Northern Ireland Schools Football Association has teamed up with Danske Bank to provide a girls 11 aside competition this year. 

This year the girls 11 a side competition was held in 5 regions across Northern Ireland.  There were 27 teams involved in the competitions with over 416 girls participating in the regional heats with the winners advancing to the girls 11aside finals in January. 

In the first of the regional heats at Ulster University Coleraine, Lisneal College and St Mary’s College excelled with St Mary’s eventually running out group winners.

Last year’s winners St Louise’s College Belfast booked their place in the finals winning in a very tight match against St Genevieve’s, Belfast in the Belfast/ Antrim heat.  In the Tyrone and Fermanagh heat Holy Cross showed their strength and numbers with their A team having to play their B team in the final. Holy Cross College will be representing Tyrone and Fermanagh at the finals.

In the Down heat in Londonderry park St Joseph’s proved too strong winning their section and not dropping a point against the likes of Glenlola College and Strangford High School. Clounagh Junior High will be representing the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon are in the finals of the school girls 11 aside competitions which will be played at Allen Park on the 17th January 2018.

The competition aims to give school girls more opportunities at playing 11 aside football, growing and learning the laws of the game. This is the first year Northern Ireland Schools Football Association has collaborated with the competition with the hope that the competition can  go from strength to strength in the coming years. 

Laurelhill achieve gold schools quality mark

Laurelhill achieve Gold Quality Mark

Laurelhill Community College have become the third post primary school in Northern Ireland to be awarded the IFA Gold School Quality Mark.  The School Quality Mark is a vital aspect of the IFA’s Let them Play Strategy, it strives to improve structures in primary and post primary schools to allow schools football to flourish.  The quality mark was first launched in Laurelhill Community College in January 2016 with more than 20 schools achieving one of the three levels of accreditation.

Laurelhill teacher Mark Watson is delighted the school has been recognised for their continued development of football in the school “This is the highest achievement that a school can gain, Laurelhill always strives for excellence not just in the classroom but on the sporting field. We offer both A and B teams from Year 8-14 which compete in the Lisburn League, Belfast and Northern Ireland Cup competitions, we also offer girls football from u12 – u18 with 1 team in each year group.  We have extensive facilities with our gravel pitch to be converted to a full size 3G and a 9 a side 3G next summer.  The school has based its approach on participation however has had success in schools competitions over the years including winning the NISFA U16 Cup and the IFA U15 futsal cup.”


Northern Ireland to Host 2017 Victory Shield Tournament

This year’s Victory Shield tournament will be staged in Northern Ireland – and organised by the Northern Ireland Schools’ Football Association.

NISFA said it is delighted to be hosting the Under-16 Schoolboys international competition, which is run by the Schools’ Association Football International Board.

The 72nd Victory Shield will be staged from 22 October to 27 October, with all games being played at Crusaders FC’s Seaview Stadium in Belfast and at the Bangor Fuels Arena, home of Ards FC and Bangor FC.

Northern Ireland have only won the shield once – in 2000-01 – since the current version was set up in 1947. England have not entered for the past couple of years, so Northern Ireland’s U16s will be facing Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland in next month’s tournament.

The Victory Shield was presented to SAFIB in 1947 to mark, as suggested by its title, victory by the Allies in World War II - and has been played for continuously since then. In the past the Under-16s version of the home international championship has showcased several up and coming stars. Current Northern Ireland internationals Steven Davis, Jonny Evans and Aaron Hughes all played in the competition as well as the likes of Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney.

NISFA chairman Paul Kerr said: “Three years ago the competition changed its format from playing games over the season to a week-long tournament hosted by one of the participating countries and this year, for the first time, it’s Northern Ireland’s turn to host it.

“I would like to thank the Local Organising Committee who have freely volunteered their time and expertise to ensure the tournament will be a success.

“I would encourage everyone to come to the games and give our world-renowned support to our up and coming stars.”

SAFIB Victory Shield 2017 Match Schedule

Monday 23 October 1pm

Scotland v Wales

Seaview Stadium

Monday 23 October 3pm

Northern Ireland v Republic of Ireland

Bangor Fuels Arena

Wednesday 25 October 11am

Wales v Republic of Ireland

Bangor Fuels Arena

Wednesday 25 October 1pm

Northern Ireland v Scotland

Seaview Stadium

Friday 27 October 1pm

Republic of Ireland v Scotland

Bangor Fuels Arena

Friday 27 October 5pm

Wales v Northern Ireland

Bangor Fuels Arena 

Schools Football back in action

Schools football gets back into action this week and Edwin Ferris, Northern Ireland Schools Competition Convener, is expecting that there will be a surge of interest in the national competitions.  “Last season we had a record number of entries for all the competitions and I anticipate that the level of interest will be even greater this time.  We have already been contacted by some schools wishing to participate for the first time.  This season the 16 strongest teams will be seeded and will enter the competition at the third round while the unseeded teams will play down to 16” added Edwin.


With so many schools from all over the Province participating in these events it is necessary for the competitions to start early in the season and the Competition Convener reminds schools that the closing date for entry to

Under 12                    Northern Ireland Minor Cup

Under 14                    Northern Ireland Intermediate Cup

Under 16                    Northern Ireland Youth Cup

Under 18                    Northern Ireland Senior Cup

is Friday 8th September.


Entries should be sent to
Edwin Ferris

49 Mount Merrion Park


and any teacher requiring further details can contact him by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Edwin Ferris

(NISFA Press Officer)

King's Park Secure Gold Accreditation

King’s Park Primary and Nursery School in Lurgan has become the first primary school in Northern Ireland to achieve a Gold Award under the Irish Football Association’s School Quality Mark programme.

Through the programme the association strives to maximise the number of schoolchildren exercising and playing football, enhance grassroots football, build capacity in schools and develop school and club links.

Irish FA Foundation Schools Manager Jonathan Michael said he was delighted to announce King’s Park as the first gold standard primary school under the School Quality Mark programme.

He pointed out: “King’s Park play in a variety of competitions throughout the year and always give the pupils the opportunity to participate. To be the first primary school to achieve the gold accreditation shows the school’s focus on football and the commitment of the staff to go above and beyond to provide after-school activities. 

“King’s Park’s structures and processes will be used as examples of best practice to assist other schools in gaining a quality mark accreditation.”

The Lurgan school won two national football finals this year (NISFA five-a-side and NISFA large school seven-a-side) and they are also Northern Ireland cross-country boys’ champions for the third year running and, for the first time, NI cross-country girls’ champions.

“The promotion of sport and in particular of football for both boys and girls has been very much part of our school’s development plan over recent years. King’s Park has a long history of producing footballers who have gone on to play at senior level in the Irish League and beyond,” said Ashton Shields, head of football at King’s Park.

“Over recent years we have developed a number of partnerships through which we have encouraged sporting excellence at all levels in our school. The catalyst for much of our recent success was the construction in 2012 of a full-size Multi-Use Games Area within our school grounds. 

“This surface has proved to be a major asset in developing all pupil participation, enjoyment of active learning and in coaching the finer skills over a wide range of sports, football being a major beneficiary.”

He also pointed out several teachers at the school have Irish FA coaching qualifications which are transferable to other sports, while football is a major ingredient of King’s Park’s extensive after school clubs programme. Futsal is also now part of that programme.

He explained Irish FA coaching and development personnel have been working in the school for several years - and their input has been greatly valued by staff and children alike.

The head of football further revealed Lurgan-based Irish Premiership side Glenavon have been “extremely encouraging” and have provided the school with coaches ranging from Level One to UEFA A and Pro level coaches. And another local side, Lurgan Town, have also played their part in developing the skills of the pupils attending King’s Park.

NI U15 girls ready for Bob Docherty tournament

Bob Docherty Cup | U15 Girls’ International

 Press Release: Thursday, April 6, 2017

 Republic of Ireland to host Bob Docherty Cup


FAI SCHOOLS will welcome their counterparts from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to the impressive surrounds of the AUL Complex in Clonshaugh this weekend.

 The International tournament will cater for the best U15 Schools’ players in their respective jurisdictions. The four day event will kick off on Sunday evening, April 9 at 6pm.

 As host nation, the Republic of Ireland have invited club representatives Shelbourne Ladies to participate in this year’s event. Last season saw hosts Wales invite their younger age group (2001) to compete alongside their 2002 Select in Dragon Park. Similarly, a MGL Select participated in this tournament when FAI Schools last facilitated the competition.

 This will be the fourth occasion for the FAI Schools Association to play host having previously catered for the event as far back as 2004 in Co. Clare when Scotland secured the title for a second consecutive year. Four years later it was the turn of Salthill Devon FC, Galway which saw Michael Gallagher’s Captain Olivia Smartt (Mount Sackville) lift the Cup for the Republic of Ireland.

 Alongside Smartt that day were colleagues Megan Campbell (Our Lady’s College, Drogheda), Ciara Grant (Loreto Convent, Letterkenny), Dora Gorman (Dominican College, Taylor’s Hill), Ciara O’Brien (St. Angela’s Waterford) and Aileen Gilroy (St. Patrick’s College, Lacken Cross).  It was the Republic’s fourth title win having captured the Cup the previous year in Wrexham (2007) and Ballymena (2005 and 2002).

 2010 was the last occasion in which the Republic of Ireland were crowned Champions as Keeva Keenan (St. Michael’s SS, Finglas), Jessica Gargan (St. Finian’s CC, Swords), Amy O’Connor (St. Vincent’s SS, Cork), Aisling Frawley (St. Angela’s Waterford), Chelsea Noonan (Christ King Girls’ SS, Cork), Amber Barrett (Loreto CS, Milford) and Roma McLaughlin (Moville CC) all starred for the Schools outfit.  

 The Clonshaugh venue last hosted in 2012 when Northern Ireland sealed an impressive two in-a-row. It will be interesting to see if home advantage will help Counihan and her team this time around. The Limerick native has managed the squad for the last four seasons with a runners up medal in the Bob Docherty Cup in 2016, 2015 and 2014. She may be due a gold at this stage of development!

 As well as the Irish players donning the Irish jersey, it will be a massive occasion for Shelbourne Ladies, who will no doubt relish the opportunity afforded to them. The club have tasted recent success having captured the FAI Women’s U16s Cup last weekend with a victory over a much fancied Enniskerry in Home Farm FC, Whitehall.

 Many of the players involved last week for Shels will line out for the Republic of Ireland with Ellie Ferguson (Coláiste na nInse, Bettystown), Emily Whelan (Ardgillan CC) who picked up POTM in that U16 Cup tie, Jessica Ziu (Larkin CC), Mia Dodd (Presentation SS, Warrenpoint) and Taylor White (St. Dominic’s College, Cabra) all selected for Lorraine Counihan’s side. Ironically Enniskerry club-mates Shauna Carroll and Club Captain Nadine Clare will line out alongside the quintet on Sunday when the Republic of Ireland face Wales in their opening match.

 Shelbourne Manager Casey McQuillan will opt for a new look side as he enters the contest with a select from 2001, 2002 and 2003 at his disposal. The club will have a series opener as they face defending Champions England on Sunday evening. The crunch encounter will provide him with an opportunity to assess his players on the big occasion before they take on Northern Ireland on Monday evening.

 Counihan will be without the services of her most influential starlet as Éabha O’Mahony (Mount Mercy College, Cork) was ruled out last month haven taken ill with appendicitis while on International duty with Dave Bell’s U17s. The youngster is recovering well but unfortunately won’t make a return for this campaign. The Irish will however be boosted by the return of last season’s duo Zara Foley (Ballincollig CS) and Jessica Ziu (Larkin CC). Counihan will reply on their experience to settle the team ahead of the tournament showcase against the Welsh Dragons. 

Wales will come into this tie with some notable players making a welcome return. Lucy Attwood played for their first team in Dragon Park last season with colleague’s Ellie Mai Sanford, Hayley Hoare, Grace Corne, Aneeka Bardsley, goalkeeper Deanna Lewis and Jasmine Simpson all featuring for their second tier squad and making the step up this season. Head Coaches Kat Lovett and Matthew Clement will be hoping that the girls can upset the hosts with a full three points to kick start their campaign on the right note. 

Scotland would like to emulate the success that their U19s are currently having at the Elite Phase in Limerick when they enter the fray on Monday evening against the Republic of Ireland. The squad have been selected since January and have enjoyed an excellent campaign thus far with a number of competitive friendlies under their belt as well as their annual trip to Jersey which reaped dividends for David Thomson’s charges. Mearns Castle High scholar Cara Henderson will make a return from their 2016 squad and will be one to watch out for come match day!

Defending Champions England will see Claire Robinson at the helm this season ably assisted by Stephanie Libby and the experienced Andy Williams. The well-polished unit enjoyed a training camp in Porto this season as well a number of competitive outings against some top class opposition.  Their preparations were hampered slightly by the late withdrawal of Molly Bull due to injury which will see only 15 players make the trip to Dublin.

Northern Ireland will make the short journey South to Dublin with a startling six squad members making another appearance at the Bob Docherty Cup as Leah McAvoy, Joely Andrews, Carla Devine, Aimee Lee Peachey, Rachel McLaren and Jessica Magee all feature for Gail Redmond’s side.  The Northerners will have an opportunity to review the Shelbourne crew on Sunday before they feature against them on Monday evening. The next test will be England on Tuesday afternoon before the play-off’s Wednesday morning.

The Bob Docherty Cup is always highly contested with some very close calls in recent years. The Republic of Ireland just missed out on the silverware last season as England’s Holly Manders’ second half strike was the only difference between the two sides.  

The competition has seen four of the five nations lift the title in its 15 year history. Top of the leader board is Scotland with six titles to their credit (2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2015) closely followed by the Republic of Ireland on five (2002, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010). Could Counihan and her Schools’ Select match the Scottish record on Wednesday morning with the final day of competition kicking off early? They will have to overcome the challenge of Wales and Scotland first and that’s no easy feat as both sides are quality opposition who too have their eye on the top prize.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND | Ria McPhilbin (Coláiste Iognáid), Courtney Maguire (St. Laurence's College, Loughlinstown), Mia Dodd (Presentation Secondary School, Warrenmount), Ellie Ferguson (Coláiste na hInse, Laytown), Nadine Clare & Shauna Carroll (both Loreto Secondary School, Foxrock), Taylor White (St. Dominic’s College, Cabra), Jessica Ziu (Larkin CC, Cathal Brugha Street), Kayla Brady (Wilson's Hospital School, Multyfarnham), Aoibheann Clancy (Presentation Secondary School, Thurles), Zara Foley (Ballincollig Community School), Sophie Liston (Scoil Mhuire agus Ide, Newcastle West), Kelsey Munroe (Ballinrobe Community School), Kate O’Dowd (St. Nathy’s College, Ballaghaderreen), Emilia Koziel (Dominican College, Taylor’s Hill), Muireann Devaney (St. Clare’s Comprehensive School, Manorhamilton), Anna Fahey (St. Paul’s Secondary School, Oughterard), Emily Whelan (Ardgillan Community College, Balbriggan)

MANAGEMENT | Lorraine COUNIHAN, Manager (Coláiste Mhuire, Buttevant), Maureen O’DONNELL, Assistant Manager (Deele College, Raphoe), Richard BERKELEY, Coach (Sancta Maria College, Louisburgh), David ROONEY, GK Coach, Aoife BURKE, Physio, Aoife LYNCH, Video Analyst

 SHELBOURNE LADIES FC | Jodie Leavy, Shannon Guildea, Nicole Keogh, Jess Carroll, Jodie McQuillan, Sarah O’Sullivan, Kerri Duffy, Chloe Johnston, Faye Larkin, Lucy Edwards, Lara Walshe, Taylor Massey, Simone Peat, Sophie Murray, Rebecca Cooke, Emma Ring, Zoe Leonard, Ellen Tester

MANAGEMENT | Casey McQuillan, Karen O’Connell, Keith Hennessy, Stephen Gray, Jason Dunbar, Kayleigh Cooling, Rebecca Fitzsimons

 WALES | Lucy Attwood, Aneeka Bardsley, Grace Burke, Grace Corne, Grace Godwin, Phoebe Hampson, Hayley Hoare, Carrie Jones, Cerys Jones, Ellen Jones, Deanna Lewis, Esther Morgan, Ellie-Mai Sanford, Elena Scrivens, Jasmine Simpson, Josie Smith, Samantha Wynne, Anna Bebb

MANAGEMENT | Matthew Clement, Kat Lovett, Loren Dykes, Jack Long, Charlotte Preen, Clare Daley, Wayne Peter, Josh Harfoot, Garther Rogers, Alan Morgan

 NORTHERN IRELAND | Jenna Corry, Fi Morgan, Cara Mervyn, Rachel McLaren, Jessica Magee, Joely Andrews, Kerry Beattie, Toni Leigh Finnegan, Anna Wilson, Leah McAvoy, Carla Devine, Teegan Lynch, Jessica Rea, Eirinn Canavann, Aimelee Peachey, Kathryn McConnell, Lucy Andrews, Maddie Clifford,

MANAGEMENT | Gail Redmond, Danielle McDowell, Andy Smyth, Amie Campbell, Leah McCready.

 ENGLAND | Lucy Williamson, Arabella Suttie, Deerna Goodwin, Melissa Robertson, Emily Wallace, Jasmine McQuade, Emma Harries, Sophie Peskett, Gemma Lawley, Georgia Brown, Jess Brown, Abbie Fenton, Libby Gilmore, Sharna Wilkinson, Lexie Harrison

MANAGEMENT | Claire Robinson, Stephanie Libbey, Will Smith, Andy Williams, Hannah Cornell

 SCOTLAND | Georgia Crooks, Mhairi Crooks, Hannah Cunningham, Carly Girasoli, Cara Henderson, Rebecca McAllister, Philippa McCallum, Laura McCartney, Chelsea McEachran, Karsey McGlinchey, Kathleen McGovern, Rosie McQuillan, Aisha Maughen, Aaliyah Jay Meach, Hannah Scott, Eilidh Shore, Jodie Strachen, Alicia Yates

MANAGEMENT | David Thomson, Jim Bettley, Gillian Duffy, Mark Grant, Kirsty Hendry



All fixtures will take place at the AUL Complex, Clonshaugh


Bob Docherty Cup Group Stages | U15 Girls’ International Tournament

Republic of Ireland vs Wales

Shelbourne vs England

Sunday, April 9, KO 6pm


Bob Docherty Cup Group Stages | U15 Girls’ International Tournament

Republic of Ireland vs Scotland

Shelbourne vs Northern Ireland

Monday, April 10, KO 6pm


Bob Docherty Cup Group Stages | U15 Girls’ International Tournament

Wales vs Scotland

Northern Ireland vs England

Tuesday, April 11, KO 2pm


Bob Docherty Cup Play-offs | U15 Girls’ International Tournament

5 vs 6

3 vs 4

Wednesday, April 12, KO 10.30am


Bob Docherty Cup Final | U15 Girls’ International Tournament

1 vs 2

Wednesday, April 12, KO 11.00am



Bob Docherty Cup | Roll of Honour







Republic of Ireland

Ballymena, Northern Ireland



Edinburgh, Scotland



Clare, Republic of Ireland


Republic of Ireland

Ballymena, Northern Ireland



Dumfries, Scotland


Republic of Ireland

Wrexham, Wales


Republic of Ireland

Salthill Devon, Galway



Belfast, Northern Ireland


Republic of Ireland

Glasgow, Scotland


Northern Ireland

Cardiff, Wales


Northern Ireland

AUL Complex, Dublin



Shaws Bridge, Belfast



Repton School, Derbyshire



Toryglen, Glasgow



Dragon Park, Wales



AUL Complex, Dublin


Renamed Bob Docherty Cup

Holy Cross Crowned Belfast 5aside Champions

"Belfast Primary Schools' Football Association held the annual Rainbow Communications Indoor 5-a-side competition at Shankill Leisure Centre.  Thirty-six schools entered the competition with six progressing to the final.  The finalists were Christ the Redeemer, Holy Cross, St. Clare's, St. Patrick's, St. Paul's and Seaview.  Holy Cross and St. Patrick's won all their matches but drew against each other so the winner was decided on goal difference.  Holy Cross are this year's champions.  We thank Rainbow Communications for their continued support of this competition." 

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