Aaron McEneff, a 19-year-old midfielder with the Tottenham Academy, scored the winning goal as the Northern Ireland Under-19 team won the Elite Section of the Dale Farm Milk Cup last night.
The annual Northern Ireland Dale Farm Milk Cup was played in towns around the north coast last week. Tottenham’s Aaron McEneff was a member of the Northern Ireland squad in the Elite Under-19 section. Four nations competed on a round-robin format and after winning their opening two games, Northern Ireland needed a draw from their final match against Canada to finish top of the group.
Aaron McEneff Penalty
Northern Ireland had defeated China 2 – 0 in the opening game and then came from behind to defeat holders, Mexico, in a tempestuous match on Wednesday evening. The game broke out in a mass brawl on two occasions with 4 players dismissed – 3 from Mexico and one Northern Ireland player.
The final match against Canada was played at the Ballymena Showgrounds last night. It made less headlines but was equally tense as the local side had to hold on through the final minutes with only 10-men, after a player was sent off for two yellow cards.
Both teams had created early chances but it remained scoreless at half-time with Northern Ireland having seen a shot rebound off the post. Aaron McEneff’s moment came in the 53rd minute when a penalty was awarded following a foul. He coolly slotted the penalty home, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way and putting the ball low into the net. After the dismissal in the 70th minute, Canada pressed for an equaliser but Northern Ireland held on to win the trophy for a record fourth time.
Following the win Aaron McEneff tweeted,
Absolutely buzzing to win The @DFMilkCup and to have scored the winner in the final! Lads have been excellent all week, CHAMPIONS
Aaron McEneff is a central midfielder who has progressed through the Tottenham Academy and was awarded his first professional contract in June. He broke into the Under-21 side last season having stepped up to the Under-18 team the previous year.
Aaron comes from Derry and has represented Northern Ireland at various Under-age levels up to Under-19. He played for Institute in IFA Championship in 2011-12 and signed a two year scholarship deal with Spurs in August 2012.
Speaking to the Derry Journal last April, McEneff said,
I’ve been over at Spurs for two years now. This is the end of my second year so I would’ve been out of contract but thankfully they’ve offered me another year. It’s a massive step in my career.
He admits that he found it difficult to settle in London at the start but he is enjoying life now. He said,
It was hard to adapt when I first came over here but you slowly get used to it. The home sickness starts to leave you and become settled and come into your own. At the start you’re looking around and you get a bit star struck. Then you’re training with these guys every day and you just get used to it.
Tottenham last played in the Premier (Under-17) Section of the Northern Ireland Milk Cup in 2012.