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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." 



The Northern Ireland Schools Football Association (NISFA) has today announced an extension to its partnership with Danske Bank for this year’s Northern Ireland U18 Schools Cup.

The Danske Bank U18 Schools Cup is the largest schools competition in the country with 72 schools entering the competition this year.

NISFA Chairman, Paul Kerr, commented: “We are delighted to have Danske Bank agree to sponsor one of our competitions.  This year, we have changed the structure of the NI Schools Cup.  The Northern Ireland U18 cup is our biggest competition and we feel it should be on par with the other school’s finals on St. Patrick’s day.

“NISFA would like to thank Danske Bank for its continued support to schools football and we feel it is a partnership that can grow in years to come.  This year we have organised the U16 and U18 schools competitions so that both finals will take place on St. Patrick’s Day at the same venue. The U18 final will kick off in the morning and the U16 final takes place in the afternoon.

“We would also like to thank the BDSSA who kindly agreed to give up their St. Patricks Day U16 final to accommodate all the major sports in the country having their schools final on the same day the 17th of March.”

Mr Kerr also thanked the schools entering the competition, the teachers who freely gave up their time to coach the players, the parents who support and encourage their children and most importantly the boys who put in all the hard hours of training.

“This is a great opportunity for the schools to play at an Irish league ground in front of thousands of their supporters and peers and I would like to thank everyone who has come to cheer on their boys at this festival of football,” he added.

Ian Russell, Danske Bank Regional Manager commented: “At Danske Bank our youth partnerships are very important to us; from our support of this competition to our support of schools’ rugby and GAA we are committed to the development of young sporting talent across Northern Ireland. 

“And we are very proud of our association with NISFA; a look at the current Northern Ireland squad gives a clear indication of how boys have come through schools’ football, using it as a stepping stone to move into a professional playing career.


“We are also committed to supporting young people off the sports field and many of our staff visit schools regularly to deliver financial literacy modules through our SMART Partnership programme.”

Marlin steps down as Co Manager of u18

"I am sad not to be managing a Northern Ireland squad any longer as I have enjoyed it immensely and am a proud Norn Iron man. Frankie (Wilson) and I have been in position for 3 years and its been fantastic, its been a pleasure working with Frankie and so many talented young players, I will still be involved from afar but am leaving a top class group of staff in Frankie Wilson, Brian Donaghey, Eamon Curry and Bob Ramsey as well as an excellent support system from the NISFA Officers. 

The chance to work at Oldham Athletic at such a high level and in an exciting role (Head of First Team Analysis) was too good to turn down.

 I would like to thank all those who have helped me, in my various roles over the last 6 years working with the different Northern Ireland squads. I have taken immense pride in working on over 90 internationals for my country, with many of those as manager, its such a great honour and I will look back on it with great pride. 

 Perhaps in the future i will be more involved again. Michael (O'Neill) knows I will help where/when I can so no doubt I will still do some work on monitoring players and the like, whilst based in England now.' 

Schools Cup entries open

The Northern Ireland Schools Football Association has opened entries for the Schools cup.


1.       NISFA is again holding District Cup competitions at Years 8, 9 and 10.  They will be played (along with the Primary Schools Year 7 competition) on 5 APRIL 2017


2.       The age limits for the following school competitions are:-

Northern Ireland Under 12 Cup          OVER 11 AND UNDER 12 on 1st July 2016 (Year 8)

Northern Ireland Under 14 Cup          OVER 12 AND UNDER 14 on 1st July 2016 (Years 9 and 10)

Northern Ireland Under 16 Cup          OVER 14 AND UNDER 16 on 1st July 2016 (Years 11 and 12)

Northern Ireland Under 18 Cup          OVER 16 AND UNDER 18 on 1st July 2016 (Years 13 and 14)

In these competitions 16 schools will be seeded (based on past results) and will not enter the cups until the third round.  The other schools will play down to 16 over the first two rounds. Schools eliminated in the First or Second Round of a Cup competition will be entitled to apply to enter the equivalent Plate competition.  The winners and runners up in the Northern Ireland Under 14 Cup will represent Northern Ireland in the Inter Nations Schools Championship in Wales, in May 2017.

Please make your smaller secondary schools aware of the NISFA Small Secondary Schools (Enrolment under 40 boys in Year 9 and Year 11) Competitions.  Entry Forms for the NISFA U13 and U15 Small Secondary Schools Cups will be sent out in October.


          The closing date for entries for these competitions is NOON FRIDAY 9 SEPTEMBER 2016.

   For more information please contact  Edwin Ferris (EMAIL This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Ross Redman (EMAIL This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Success at the Girls Super Schools Festivals

Irish FA Super Schools Festival

The Irish FA hosted their biggest girl’s festival of the year this week at the Mallusk Playing Fields. The festival will give over 1,200 girls the opportunity to showcase their talent in 7 a side games

The event hosted by the Irish FA is the conclusion of the 16 FIFA Live Your Goals festivals which have been taking place across Northern Ireland.  The festivals look to raise the profile of girls and women’s football and increase the numbers of females playing football.

Sports Minister, Paul Givan, MLA said: “Today’s event demonstrates the excellent opportunities for young girls and women to get involved in sport and football.  There is no doubt that participating in sport and taking an active interest in health and wellbeing helps to build confidence amongst young people and my Department is keen to support this wherever possible.

“It is very encouraging to see so many young girls and women taking part this festival.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the IFA on this initiative in promoting girls participation in youth football and raising awareness that this is a sport for all to enjoy.”

Selected by FIFA as one of 20 Associations awarded funding for the programme, the Irish FA have given girls the opportunity to learn new skills by participating in small-sided games.  The ultimate aim of the festival day was to encourage more girls to join their local clubs and to play football on a regular basis.

David Martin, Deputy President of the Irish FA said, “The Irish FA are fully committed to girls football, this is reflected in the Irish FA plan “Let Them Play” which was launched in 2015. The plan aims to improve opportunities for girls to play football with schools being a key objective, so I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all teams in today’s competitions. The majority of girls representing their schools today will be learning the game and I hope their experience today will encourage them to join their local club.  The hard work and dedication shown by the coaches and staff is fully recognised by the Irish FA and I would like to thank all the schools that have taken part in this year’s competition. Good luck today.”

The Super Schools Day ran on Wednesday 15th June at Mallusk Playing Fields.  There was 70 schools participating in the year 8/9 age group with 47 schools completing in the 10/11 are group.  Along with the festival matches there was a fan zone for players and spectators to enjoy which included face painting and games such as cage football, the speed shooter and the bouncy goalkeeper. 

The competition culminated in two very exciting finals, in the year 8/9 competition Glengormley high school narrowly defeated Glenlola Collegiate.  The final in the year 10/11 competition was even closer and had to be separated by penalties were St Joseph’s College, Belfast lost out to Our Lady and St Patricks College, Knock. 


Spring into Futsal finals

Spring into Futsal Finals


The Irish FA new initiative Spring into Futsal finals were on Monday 25th April. There were 4 regional tournaments held across the country for primary school boys and girls with the winners and runners up from each regional tournament entered into the final at Shankill Leisure Centre.  In the boys section the two group winners St Bernard and Howard PS met in the final. Howard went ahead early in a very tight game however St Bernard’s came back with two goals to take the first ever primary school futsal trophy. The girl’s competition was also very tightly contested with Dundonald primary school playing Christ the Redeemer in the final. The two teams were that closely matched with a 2-2 draw that only penalties could decide the winner. Dundonald came out victorious scoring two of their three penalties.


Success at Belfast primary school 5-aside

Belfast Primary Schools' Football Association held the annual 5-a-side competition in Shankill Leisure Centre.  Thirty-six schools applied for inclusion and three heats were held to accommodate these schools.  The top two schools each day progressed to the final.  gaelscoil na bhFal won the evenly contested final with Victoria Park coming second on goal difference from Holy Child. 

Mervyn Bryson Chairperson of the Belfast Primary Schools' Football Association said: "Further sponsorship this year from Rainbow Communications cements our relationship with this prestigious company and we are indebted to them for their continuing support.  The help they have given the Association over many years has benefitted many Belfast schools and hundreds of pupils who have enjoyed the 5-a-side football.  It was also a pleasure to welcome back David Healy who has a great rapport with the children and we are grateful that he found time to be with us from his duties at Windsor Park”.

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