Brighton and Republic of Ireland International Shane Duffy, will be Guest Of Honour at this year’s launch of the International O'Neills Foyle Cup at the Waterfoot Hotel in Derry on Tuesday June 5.
Shane is a former player of Derry & District Youth FA / Foyle Harps FC and played in the Foyle Cup competition from age 10 up until 16 before signing pro terms with Everton FC. He transferred from there to Blackburn Rovers FC and then to his present English Premier League team Brighton FC.
Shane is presently on international Duty with the Republic of Ireland team as he faces matches against USA and France prior to the Foyle Cup launch but he is excitedly looking forward to a journey home to the city of his youth to be Special Guest of Honour.
"It's a massive honour for me to be asked to launch this tournament," said Shane. ."Obviously I've played in the competition and it helped me immensely to get me to where I am today. This event has grown so much in stature and importance and it is great that Irish kids have a platform such as the Foyle Cup to display their undoubted skills. It has been a means to professional football for so many Irish kids. I am delighted to witness the growth of interest worldwide in this wonderful tournament with teams travelling from Finland, Sweden, France, Africa, Mauritius and 18 teams from USA to compete in the event in July 2018.
The tournament has certainly proved to be a major platform for Irish footballers in gaining professional contracts over the 27 years of its existence. Former local players discovered at the event include Seamus Coleman, Robbie Keane, Stephen Ireland, John O’Shea. Darron Gibson, Shea Given, Daniel Lafferty, Shane Ferguson, Eunan O Kane, to name but a few.
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 Ireland’s biggest and best youth football tournaments.
Chairman of the organising committee, Mr. Michael Hutton, has been impressed at the growing numbers of teams taking part, particularly the participants travelling from America.
"It's interesting to note that in a time of recession our number of team entries continue to rise annually. In our City of Culture year 2013 we had the 164 teams and we thought that with those numbers we had indeed peaked – this year we have an entry of 400+ teams. I have no doubt that as we celebrate our 27th anniversary, this year’s event will be our finest yet with entries travelling from all over the world to compete.
I am particularly pleased with the growth of interest from American clubs in the event as two years ago we had 2 American teams; last year 8 American teams and this year 18 American teams, including two teams in the Ladies competition. We estimate that during the week of the festival of football we will have approximately 600 American visitors, some residing here for up to 14 days!
The Chairman commented, “The Foyle Cup cannot happen just on account of the willingness and hard work of a group of voluntary workers locally. We need sponsorship and in thanking all our sponsors - Derry & Strabane District Council, Tourism N.I. The Executive Office, Dept. For Communities, Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council, O’Neills, Inner City Trust, Seagate, Brunswick Moviebowl and Derry Credit Union. - I would call on other businesses to get behind this event which ranks as one of the biggest and best in the region annually, bringing more than two million pounds in spending into the local economy.