Fermanagh Juniors manager Chris McDowell has hailed their Northern Ireland Super Cup performance as a success, after his side produced some memorable displays on the North Coast.

An opening day victory over IDA Bermuda, where his side twice came from behind to win 3-2, was followed by a brave and narrow defeat to eventual winners Manchester United. They also recorded a final day draw against Atlante, after recovering from a heavy defeat to County Londonderry.

“We set out a couple of objectives when we first came together as a coaching team, and really I think we fulfilled all of those objectives,” said Chris. “Maybe our performance on the Wednesday (against County Londonderry) wasn’t the best, but apart from that we did everything we wanted to do.

"We set out to win a game, which the Juniors hadn’t done in six years, and that was a big achievement. We put in a big performance against United, which was a big thing for them. Overall, I was really pleased, and some boys have done themselves no harm in terms of putting themselves in the shop window which was a massive thing.”

After a memorable week, Chris admitted it was difficult to pick out just one highlight.

“You couldn’t really look past Tuesday (against Man United),” he said. “In the first half we had our backs to the wall, but again they had that determination, grit and steel within them to keep their shape and do what they were asked to do, and stay disciplined. I would love to have had trackers on every one of them to see the distance they covered. Calvin Brown’s performance that night was probably one of the best goalkeeping displays I have seen in a long time from a cub his age. It was one of those performances where you wonder if someone doesn’t have a look on him then what does a cub have to do, and the standing ovation they all got after the game was special.

“Tuesday was the highlight, but getting that first win over the line on Monday was brilliant for the boys as well with the heart and character they showed to come from behind twice,” he continued. “That was a massive highlight because it showed the character within that squad. They never lay down, and one of the objectives was to win a game, and we did that in the first day. You could see the joy in their faces, and it was the same with the parents on the side lines.

“Even Friday for me was a highlight. Come the end of the week they are mentally and physically tired. You never have a kid looking to come off, but at half time on Friday I had two asking if they could come off because they were that tired. That just shows what they put in through the whole week.”

The midweek defeat to their rival county side was the low point of the week, but Chris was determined it would not overshadow the rest of the tournament.

“The way the fixtures fell probably wasn’t favourable for us,” he conceded. “Even though we had the glamour tie, a big game in the middle of the first three means it is probably going to be hard to lift them again. They were tired. They were done on Wednesday, and we got up that morning and three or four were carrying injuries and fatigued because they all played their part on Tuesday.

"When you go up against a County Londonderry team with six Northern Ireland internationals in it you are always going to be up against it. On Thursday, the performance against San Francisco was a lot better and we were beaten by two set pieces. On Friday it could have gone either way, but they showed a lot of heart and determination to pull themselves back around after Wednesday which was good to see. It was a football lesson, but a life lesson for a lot of them as well.”

Despite the physical and mental exertions of the squad, Chris is confident every member benefitted from the Super Cup experience.

“I think they all did learn a lot,” he said.

“They experienced what it might be like to be in an almost full time environment, rooming with your teammates and living within each other’s pockets, and how mentally and physically draining it can be to be in that environment. I think the backroom team had prepared them really well for that scenario, and when we were down there we did lots of different activities in and around the hotel, and with recovery sessions. Things they probably haven’t been used to doing, and even if they bring of couple of those things back to their own clubs then it only betters the football in the county.

"I do think the whole Super Cup experience this year, from the committee, the sponsors, the players, I think we have raised the profile again which was massive. I think we needed to do that. This year was a big year for the Super Cup.”