Strong Newtownabbey representation in Victory Shield squad

There is a strong Newtownabbey contingent in the Northern Ireland Schools’ Football Association side in this year’s Victory Shield tournament.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 3:37 pm

The competition, which gave first international call-ups to Northern Ireland legends such as Steven Davis, Aaron Hughes and Jonny Evans, and more recently to Conor Bradley, got underway in Belfast on Sunday (October 17).

Crusaders’ Seaview stadium and Harland and Wolff Welders’ new home, the revamped Blanchflower Stadium, are hosting the six games in the tournament.

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

Newtownabbey's representation in this year's Victory Shield squad Callum Cowan, Theo McToal, Bobby Harvey, Cole Brannigan and Ryan Donnelly .

The Victory Shield was presented to SAFIB in 1947 to mark victory by the Allies in World War II - and has been played for continuously since then.

Northern Ireland have only won the shield twice – in 2000-01 and 2018-19 – since the current version was set up in the 1940s.

Wales and Scotland shared the trophy in 2019-20, while the competition was not staged last season due to the Covid pandemic.

England have not entered in recent years, so Northern Ireland’s U16s will be facing Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland in the 2021 tournament.

The Newtownabbey-based players in the side are Callum Cowan (Linfield/Ballyclare High School), Theo McToal (Glentoran/Belfast High School), Bobby Harvey (Linfield/Belfast High School), Cole Brannigan (Linfield/Edmund Rice College) and Ryan Donnelly (Dungannon Swifts/Hazelwood Integrated College).

Northern Ireland slipped to a two-goal defeat to joint holders Wales in the opening game of the 2021 Victory Shield at Seaview before securing a 1-0 win over Scotland in east Belfast.

Northern Ireland will play the Republic of Ireland in their final game at the Blanchflower Stadium on Friday (October 22) at 1pm. Entry is £4 on the gate, which includes match programme and teamsheet.

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