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The Milk Cup is an international youth football tournament held annually in Northern Irelandmarker. The cup matches are mainly played in the North Coast area of Northern Ireland, with matches taking place in the towns of Portrushmarker, Portstewartmarker,Castlerockmarker, Limavadymarker, Colerainemarker, Ballymoneymarker and Ballymenamarker.

The Milk Cup began in 1983 with sixteen teams participating at an Under 16 (Premier) level. Motherwell F.C. from Scotlandmarker were the first winners. It was founded by Jim Weir, Victor Leonard and Bertie Peacock, one of the most famous football players from the region.

The competition was extended in 1985 when an extra age group, the Under 14 (Junior) section was introduced and again the first champions were from Scotland, as Rangers F.C. won the Milk Cup at that age level. The competition at both levels has grown in size and stature over the years, with teams increasingly travelling from all continents to compete. The Under 19 (Elite) section was introduced in 1995 with the Welsh finishing the tournament as winners. Traditionally, the finals are played at The Coleraine Showgroundsmarker on the Friday evening.

Many current international footballers have taken part in the Milk Cup, players such as Charlie Davies, Jonathan Spector, Paul Scholes, and Wayne Rooney have all competed at some level Milk Cup. In the FIFA World Cup 2002 there were 30 Milk Cup veterans playing.

To celebrate the competition's silver jubilee, a friendly match took place between Northern Ireland and four-time junior section winners Everton F.C. at the Coleraine Showgroundsmarker on July 14 2007. Everton won the tie 2-0.

One of the key parts to the Milk Cup is the inclusion of six representative teams from each county of Northern Ireland - Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone. This system allows young players from across the province to compete against some of the best in the world at their age group.


Year Elite (U-19) Premier (U-16) Junior (U-14)
1983 Founded in 1995 Motherwell Founded in 1985
1984 Rangers
1985 Newcastle United Rangers
1986 Dundee United Craigavon United
1987 Crewe Alexandramarker Dundee United
1988 Liverpool Home Farm
1989 Newcastle United Dungannon Swifts
1990 Tottenham Hotspur Crewe Alexandramarker
1991 Manchester United Norwich City
1992 Rangers Norwich City
1993 Cherry Orchard
1994 Hearts Middlesbrough
1995 Everton
1996 Tottenham Hotspur West Ham United
1997 Middlesbrough West Ham United
1998 Crewe Alexandramarker
1999 Vitória Crewe Alexandramarker Manchester City
2000 Charlton Athletic
2001 Norwich City
2002 Leeds United Everton
2003 Manchester United Racing Clubmarker
2004 Hearts Maccabi Haifa
2005 Barcelona Lyngby
2006 Spartak Moscow Swindon Town
2007 Fluminense Guadalajara
2008 Manchester United Everton
2009 Manchester United Everton

Media coverage

Since 2005 the Milk Cup has been broadcast on BBC Northern Ireland, taking over from Ulster Television. This has led to much more media coverage as matches from Finals Night are broadcast on BBC Two Northern Ireland. Usually these are from the Premier and Elite section featuring highlights of the junior game which happens earlier in the afternoon. Some Milk Cup matches are broadcast on BBC Two Northern Ireland, made available to the rest of the UK via BBCi and BBC SPORT Website and some other Milk Cup matches are broadcast online at The coverage is usually hosted by Stephen Watson, with commentary by BBC Commentators such as Jackie Fullerton, Michael McNamee, Paul Gilmour, Joel Taggart and punditry by John O'Neill, Gerry Armstrong and Oran Kearney over recent years.

BBC Sport NI will only continue coverage of the 2009 NI Milk Cup for the Finals, however all matches played at the Ballymena Showgrounds from Monday 27th - Thursday 30 July will be covered exclusively live by BBC Blast NI in conjunction with the NEELB. Running since 2002, BBC Blast inspires young people to get creative and offers 13-19 year olds the opportunity to get involved with media and the arts. A group of up to 19 young people will work alongside BBC NI Crew to do everything from operating the 6 professional cameras to directing a crew, commentating on matches and making short documentaries behind the scenes. Thanks to the facilities on board the NEELB Truck, all 7 Milk Cup matches in Ballymena will be streamed live and internationally on the BBC Blast NI website at and the BBC NI Milk Cup site at The matches will also be shown live on the BBC Interactive service behind the 'Red Button'.

External links

See also

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