Milk Cup: County Antrim make history by winning Premier title

County Antrim saw off Mexican side Club America in the Milk Cup Premier final

County Antrim beat Club America 3-2 on penalties, after the match ended 1-1, to become the first team from Northern Ireland to win the Premier section of the Milk Cup youth football tournament.

Jack McAlister saw his initial shot saved but Ryan Nimick headed in on the rebound after just 26 seconds.

Ricardo levelled with a clinical left-foot finish in the 56th minute.

Antrim goalkeeper Jack Ferguson was the hero for his side in the shoot-out, making three crucial saves.

"There are 18 heroes in this squad. We got the early goal, could have scored a second and then were very disciplined in our defending," said County Antrim manager Andy Hunter after the match.

Ryan Nimick put County Antrim ahead after just 26 seconds of the Premier final
Ryan Nimick put County Antrim ahead after just 26 seconds of the Premier final

"Technically, the Mexican side were very good, but we weathered the storm and were deserved winners," added the former Irish League player.

Nimick's early goal proved a wonderful confidence booster for Northern Ireland and the same player almost scored a second but his right-foot drive was pushed onto the post.

Ballymena United player Matthew Shevlin had to settle for a place on the bench despite scoring four goals earlier in the competition, but he almost made an impact shortly after coming on as a substitute with that free-kick, which was rightly adjudged not to have crossed the line.

Club America were largely ineffective as an attacking force until Ricardo popped up to fire in his third goal of the tournament.

The Mexicans struck the post soon after but Antrim emerged victorious from the shootout to become the first county side from Northern Ireland to enjoy success at the Milk Cup Under-17 section.