Portadown thirds’ Mid-Ulster Youth Cup triumph will serve as an individual honour for each player but a group reward for the development on player focus.
Chris Wright, manager of the thirds, was quick to highlight the boost provided across a number of fronts from the 6-3 success over Cookstown Youth.
Jackson Holmes and Adam Brown grabbed a double apiece alongside Thomas Aston’s effort and an own goal.
Portadown held a 3-1 lead before Cookstown hit back to level the final at Dungannon’s Stangmore Park. However, a late surge left the Ports with the prize.
“I am pleased for the lads on a personal level but it has also been another positive season in terms of overall player development,” said Wright. “Every member of the final squad has played up on a consistent basis for the reserves.
“Then players like Nathaniel Ferris, Adam Brown, Zac Wilson, Conor Larkin and Nedas Maciulaitis have been involved around the firsts.”
The trophy marks a third piece of silverware captured by the thirds in as many seasons, following last year’s NIFL Youth League Section B title and the previous campaign’s Harry Cavan Youth Challenge Cup win.
“We wanted to set the right tempo early on and our captain, Thomas Aston, made it 1-0 with a long-range strike,” said Wright. “Nathaniel Ferris showed good strength to set up Jackson Holmes for the second.
“Cookstown got one back then Adam Brown found the bottom corner from distance.
“Cookstown scored two goals to put us both level but, at this stage, the message was not to panic.
“There was still time and we just wanted to regroup and keep moving the ball in the right areas.
“An own goal off a corner-kick put us back on top before Jackson showed a lot of confidence to take on a shot from distance that made it 5-3.
“The final goal was a great exchange between Adam and Nedas Maciulaitis, with Adam finding Nedas then racing on to collect his flick and find the net.”
PORTADOWN: Conor Larkin, Scott Megaw, Jack Lenaghan, Tiernan Judge, Mark Johnstone, Zac Wilson, Jackson Holmes, Thomas Aston, Peter Campbell, Nathaniel Ferris, Adam Brown. Subs: Kevin McAlinden, Nedas Maciulaitis, Zach Crooks.
Visit the Portadown Times website for match highlights of the Mid-Ulster Youth Cup final. Footage provided by PORTS TV.