by Orlagh Mullan

In four days’ time one of the biggest football tournaments in Europe will kick off its 25th year as the Foyle Cup hits town.

The event has been famed for unearthing a number of young local talents who have gone on to represent some of the biggest clubs in the world - including Darron Gibson, Daniel Lafferty, Shane Duffy and Shane Ferguson who are all currently plying their trade in England.

Closer to home the current Derry City team is also dotted with players who have Foyle Cup experience under their belt, with the likes of Conor McDermott, Rory Holden, Josh Daniels and Barry McNamee all holding fond memories.

West Brom and Republic of Ireland midfielder James McClean is another who shares those memories of the tournament, and he believes that this year is the perfect opportunity for youngsters to take their chance to follow in his footsteps.

“This event has grown so much in stature and importance that I believe it has become an excellent pathway into professional football for many local kids,” admitted the 28-year-old.

“No matter where you travel in football, when you say you come from Derry, people immediately mention the Foyle Cup event, it is so well known and highly respected throughout Ireland and Europe.

“Young footballers in the city don’t have that many chances to showcase their talents. Taking part in the Foyle Cup gives them the chance to show scouts from England and Scotland that they can play at a higher level. So it’s a massive opportunity for the young lads,” he added.

The Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup tournament will take place in the Derry, Strabane and Causeway Coast & Glens Council areas from Monday to Saturday, with a record 345 teams competing in this year’s event.

Considering that the Foyle Cup began as an eight-team, one-day event in 1992, it is a significant achievement that it has now grown into one of the largest youth tournaments - a point not lost on the sponsors Hughes Insurance, Don Brennan Head of Marketing, Strategy and Pricing.

“This is our sixth year supporting the Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup and it’s an event we all look forward to each year – not just because it’s one of the largest youth football tournaments in Europe but because of the real sense of community and the carnival atmosphere that descends on Derry during Foyle Cup week,” he said.

“A particular sense of pride for us is the opportunity this tournament affords the young players from the local area in terms of competing against some of the game’s biggest teams and showcasing their skills in front of talent scouts.”

He continued: “This tournament represents the epitome of what we’re trying to achieve – a tournament now in its 25th year, grown from eight to well over 340 teams and aimed at bringing young footballers from across NI and beyond together to participate and enjoy the game.”

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