Northern Ireland call-up just one example of cup progress

Luke McCullough on the ball for Manchester United at the 2011 Milk Cup. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Luke McCullough on the ball for Manchester United at the 2011 Milk Cup. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

The 36 players confirmed as this summer’s County Armagh representatives for the SuperCupNI can cast an eye beyond the Northern Ireland tournament and over to France for added inspiration.

Luke McCullough’s inclusion in the EURO 2016 squad made history as the first player from Portadown to represent Northern Ireland at a major finals.

He arrived in Lyon on Sunday set for the pinnacle of a career to date that featured previous summer adventures across five years of the domestic competition under the Milk Cup banner.

McCullough lined out for two consecutive campaigns as part of the County Armagh Junior section squad before representing Manchester United at Premier level and a double Elite experience on behalf of Northern Ireland.

The Doncaster Rovers defender stands as a shining example of the opportunity associated with the youth platform as potential for maximising every individual’s potential.

“The competition can help us prepare players for career progress and there are some recent examples of players pushing on after lining out for County Armagh in the old Milk Cup,” said Dean McCullough, chairman of the County Armagh Association. “You look at Luke but also Marcio Soares and Jordan Lyttle playing for Portadown at senior level in the Irish League.

“I remember in Luke’s second Milk Cup season with County Armagh he was one of five internationals with Northern Ireland Schoolboys.

“We can be pleased with the development of the players so far across the warm-up programme.

“We now have the squads confirmed, with our Junior panel winning last weekend’s David Humphries Memorial Cup in Armagh by beating Newhill under 16s and County Tyrone.

“The Premier players lost to County Fermanagh, the eventual Orchard Cup winners.

“However, they got a 4-0 win over County Tyrone, with players selected across two groups basically to help with the final 18-strong selection.

“The next test will be the Dick Craig Memorial Cup in Lurgan on Saturday, June 15 as part of preparations.”