After a break for the half term school holidays, it was back to action for our youth teams. Take a look below to see how they are progressing, in this week’s edition of the Youth Round-up

SBYL U17 Divisional Cup

Larne v Aquinas

It was all the Larne girls’ way in the first half, with Rachel Robinson leading the attack as per usual. Complimented by Morgan Beattie and Alix Wilson rounded off the goal tally with some superb finishing.

Special mention must go to the back three of Morgan Hanna, Rebekah Robinson and Riley Harrison, who played with complete confidence.

The second half was a more subdued affair with the team taking their foot off the pedal which allowed Aquinas to seize the opportunity to pull back a late consolation goal, but the game was never in doubt. Our under-17’s now find themselves top of the table by two points, with three games to go.

U12 Valley

Larne v Ballyclare

A great performance by the girls, with some excellent attacking football being played. In the end, they were unfortunate to come away with only a draw. The team continues to grow week by week, coming together and really supporting each other.

This week the team continued to drive the play up the pitch for the second half, with some great passing by Mia, Ellie and Chloe.

While it was disheartening at the time for the team, the girls will regroup and come back stronger knowing they played well.


Larne v Sandy Row

The girls started off well and were unfortunate in the second half to concede a goal. They have made some real progress since last week. The girls simply ran out of steam in the second half, meaning they weren’t able to press as hard as they had been, making life hard for our goalkeeper. Conceding some unlucky goals, the team’s defence still looked strong with some great work shown by Faith and Paisleigh.

Our team will be able to take this game on the chin and come back stronger next time.

“The whole team is extremely excited, these types of matches only come around once.” Captain, Katherine Haveron sums up the thoughts of all of her teammates as Larne Women go into tonight’s title decider at Ballymena United.
The team already have promotion secured so come what may this evening, they will be playing Premiership football next season but as Haveron says “you want to go up as champions”.

It is an incredible climax to the season in that the two Shane’s Hill rivals sit level on not just points but goal difference and while the Sky Blues came out on top in a League Cup tie, the return league game at Inver Park finished 1-1 and the two teams could hardly have been more well-matched.

The Inver women have only lost one league game all season which was a 2-1 away reversal to Foyle Belles but when the side from the Maiden City came back to Inver, William Noble’s side brushed them aside 4-0. This was one of the recent results that the Larne number 5 says that she is most proud of the team for.

“Apart from Ballymena, the other sides we knew would be up there this season were Foyle and Ballymacash so to defeat them like that in the run-in was brilliant. The girls have really dug out some great results throughout the season to get us here.”
While Haveron emphasizes that all of the focus is rightly on tonight, this will not be the last game of the season for the Inver Women. They have an upcoming rearranged PWC Super Cup semi-final against the afore-mentioned Belles and an Electric Ireland Challenge Cup tie against Crusaders Strikers.

To be fighting on three fronts this late in the season is an incredible achievement that the centre-half has not taken for granted.
“In the past couple of seasons, while our league form has always been brilliant, we haven’t really been able to sustain a cup run so to be this far in two cups as well as promotion already secured is a credit to the girls.
We have been able to get strong sides out in the league and cup competitions.”

That tie against Crusaders is one that Haveron says is effectively a free shot and is pretty much the first time this season that the side will go into the game as underdogs but will be a marker for where the team will need to be in the Premiership next season.

“To be able to play a competitive game against one of the top Premiership sides will be a great learning curve for next season. We know the Crues will be wanting to progress so will put out a strong side so the girls will have more of an idea of what is to come week in week out next season.”

As for tonight, Haveron says “there’s a real fire in the girls for this one.” Part one of the Shane’s Hill Derby double-header this week is at 7:30 pm tonight at the Ballymena Showgrounds and Haveron, William Noble and all of the team and coaching staff are raring to go. The supporters’ bus leaves Inver Park at 6:30 pm tonight so get across the hill and support your team, your club, and your town!

“It’s great to be coming into form at the right time of the season.” Angela Buckley has been an ever-present between the sticks for Larne this season and has been the calming and reliable presence for the Inver Women as they approach the business end of a season that sees them in both a title race and in two cup competitions.

“We had a poor result against Ballymena straight after the break there a couple of weeks ago but to follow that with two wins is exactly what we needed and all of the girls are really pleased with our reaction.”

Since that defeat against the Sky Blues at Inver – which clearly stung players and coaches alike – William Noble’s side have defeated St. Oliver Plunkett in West Belfast to advance to the PWC Super Cup semi-final followed two days later by a 4-0 home victory over Foyle Belles. This put them level on points at the top of the NIWFA Championship table with their Shanes Hill rivals with just three games to go. Foyle will also be the opponents in the Super Cup semi-final at Inver Park on 15th August.

Buckley, who joined from Lisburn Ladies at the start of this season, says that she is enjoying her football more than ever this year.

“Lisburn have a great set-up and I did enjoy my time there but this is the most consistent run of games that I’ve had and the attention to detail that William (Noble), Gary (Hood) and Bradley (McAdam) put into training and matches is incredible.”

Buckley and her team-mates have two games this week, first travelling north to take on Coleraine in league action tomorrow (Wednesday) followed by an Electric Ireland Cup tie at home to Craigavon City on Friday.

Larne have made reasonably light work of the newly-promoted and youthful Bannsiders this season with an 8-0 success at home followed by a 14-0 win in the reverse fixture. However, the Larne number 1 says they will not be underestimating their opponents.

“We have been working hard in training and will not be taking Coleraine for granted, particularly at this time of the season where every game matters so much. We have seen all season that there are no easy games in this league.”

Likewise with Craigavon, who are four tiers below the Inver Women. They are, however, top of the NIWFA Division 4 with a perfect 10 wins from 10 and Buckley knows that they will be coming to Inver Park full of confidence and looking to cause an upset.

“Having a cup run in the Super Cup has been brilliant and we want another one in the Electric Ireland Cup so we will be full tilt against Craigavon. There is a real potential for a banana skin there if we aren’t 100%.”

Speaking in broader terms, Buckley is delighted with the coverage and support for the recently concluded Women’s Euros – won by England of course.

“It was incredible to see 87,000 at Wembley for the final and Northern Ireland qualifying for the first time was brilliant. I was so pleased for the girls, including my old Cliftonville teammate Marissa Callaghan.

Hopefully, it will encourage more young girls to play football and that you can play on the same sort of stage as the men. I remember going to football camps when I was younger and being the only girl! Let’s hope that the Euros can encourage the next generation.”

That is most definitely a sentiment to get behind and let’s all get behind the Inver Women on their title run-in and upcoming cup ties. It’s sure to be an exciting few weeks!

“We kept playing right until the end which was great.” Leola McErlane was one of six different scorers for the Inver Women on Wednesday night as they eased past Killen Rangers 8-0.

The striker was Player of the Match for William Noble’s side and spoke of how pleasing it was that they played their game through the 90 minutes.

“We played our style of football the whole way through, kept the ball on the deck and that was great.” she said.

“With the score running up, sometimes it’s difficult to keep your focus and things can get a bit disjointed but we kept playing and kept our focus right to the end.”

With five first half goals, the hosts had the game finished as a contest but McErlane was happy with how the team played in the second half.

She also commented on how the entire squad contributed to the impressive victory. With a bench of Megan McMurray, Elle Houston and Georgia Crawford, the depth of the squad is a clear asset.

She added: “Every girl contributed tonight and played so well. The momentum never dropped when the subs came on.

“We have only just come into the Championship this season and are putting eight and six (against Coleraine) goals past teams so we are showing that we’re here to fight and here to compete.”

Larne Women take on Comber Rec at Inver Park tonight, with kick-off scheduled for 8pm in what will be our third competitive game of the 2022 season. Take a look at the information below before heading to the game to ensure that you make the most of your midweek matchday experience.

Tickets and Stadium Access & Parking

Tickets are not required for tonight’s NIWFA Championship opener. While entry into Inver Park is free, the option of donating any amount that you wish towards our women’s football operations will be available.

During the game, spectators can watch from either the Landmark Underwriting Main Stand or the Landmark Underwriting Terrace. All other sides of the stadium will be closed, and we ask that anyone in attendance avoids these areas in the interest of health and safety.

There will be no parking facilities open inside Inver Park tonight. Those in attendance should park in the areas surrounding the stadium while being mindful of local residents while doing so.

Half-time Entertainment & Mascots

We welcome our U11 Academy side to tonight’s game as mascots, who are set to walkout with the team ahead of the 8pm kick-off. The young players will also take part in small-sided games during half-time, giving supporters something to enjoy at the interval.

Stadium Facilities

The kiosk inside Inver Park will be open this evening to serve soft drinks, teas and coffees, alongside the Dream Spanish Homes Agnew Lounge, which will also be serving the before mentioned drinks and alcoholic beverages. The Lounge will be open throughout the game, with an excellent view of the pitch on offer while you enjoy your beverage.

The Inver Reds

Tonight marks the start of the Inver Reds’ NIWFA Championship campaign. The fixture follows two emphatic Challenge Cup victories in recent weeks, and William Noble’s side will be eager to make it three wins from three games in order to build some early momentum in their new division.

New signing Hollie Johnston, who arrived this week from Crusaders Strikers, will be eligible for selection and could make her debut in front of the home crowd.


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