FOR the first time ever a select team from the North West will represent Northern Ireland at the UEFA Regions’ Cup.
Last week a Western Region select defeated their Eastern counterparts 1-0 in the second leg of their play-off qualifier to win 5-3 on aggregate.
A second half strike by veteran Trevor Parkhill sealed the deal for the Western team which was skippered by Dergview midfielder Blaine Burns.
Darragh Park team-mates Colin Robinson, James McClay and Dylan Forbes also played their part as did the Strabane Athletic duo of Conal Crawford and Kyle Harte, who scored in the first leg, and Stephen Wallace, Newbuildings.
Harry McConkey, who oversees the North’s Regions’ Cup bid, admitted the West winning the play-off was a real turn up for the books.
“There is no doubt about there were big celebrations at the end, it was the first time the West had ever win it,” said the manager.
“It’s against all the odds because of the sheer density of clubs and footballers in the East.The Eastern team was also much more experienced.
“The attitude and the work rate of the boys from the West though is to be totally commended.”
The Regions’ Cup qualifying takes place in Moldova in November where the Northern Ireland representatives will face a host team as well those from Turkey and Switzerland.
And for the Western players McConkey insists the hard work starts now.
“There are no guarantees even for the boys who played in the play-off, ” he continued. “That’s the first thing I have told every team that qualifies.
“Over the coming weeks and months I will be scouring the North West area to get the best team available.
“Gerard Boyle (assistant coach) and I now have an opportunity to work with boys from our own part of the world and that in itself is lovely.
“I’m delighted for the boys but they have got to realise that they have a massive amount of work to do to compete in Europe.”
The UEFA Regions’ Cup qualifying tournament runs from November 13-19.