Milk Cup 2011 - Town's International Review
Town teenagers Caolan Lavery, Cormac Burke and Cody Cropper were all involved in the youth event which is held every year in Northern Ireland featuring Junior, Premier and Elite groups. All three took part in the U19 Elite section, with striker Lavery and midfielder Burke capped for the hosts while goalkeeper Cropper was again chosen for the United States squad. Josh Carson had also been called up for the event but was withdrawn earlier in July.
Cody Cropper got off to the perfect start in the competition, playing the full 90 minutes and keeping a clean sheet for the USA as the defending champions beat Israel 2-0 in their opening match last Monday. The 18-year-old again played the full 90 in his side's second match against Mexico on Wednesday but this time was beaten after 12 minutes, saving Ulicez Perez's free kick only for Jesus Ruiz to net the rebound. However, the Americans pulled a goal back late in the first half to secure a 1-1 draw and book their place in the third place playoff on Friday. Unfortunately for Cropper, he was to play no part in the final match with Jon Kempin chosen in goal instead, but the USA were able to secure a 2-1 victory over Georgia to claim third place in the competition.
Meanwhile for Northern Ireland, Town duo Caolan Lavery and Cormac Burke suffered an early setback in their campaign as their side conceded a last-minute equaliser to draw 1-1 with Denmark in last Monday's opening match. Each of the Blues duo played half the match, with Lavery coming on at half-time and Burke included in the starting lineup before being replaced at the interval. Their second match against Georgia on Wednesday was also a somewhat frustrating affair for Lavery, the 18-year-old having a penalty appeal turned down early in the game before seeing a header hit the crossbar after 20 minutes. Even so, Northern Ireland were able to win a place in the final for a fifth successive year with a 3-1 win.
Lavery was again involved in Friday's final, which ended up being something of a rematch against Denmark. The Blues teenager forced a good save from goalkeeper David Jensen in the first half as Northern Ireland sought to draw level after conceding an 11th minute strike by Mark Gundelach. Sadly however, the hosts were unable to find an equaliser and suffered final defeat for the second year running, the Danes securing a 1-0 victory to earn themselves the Milk Cup title.
With his scholarship set to end in October, Lavery has yet to be offered a professional contract having been linked with a possible move to Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the summer. However, both Cropper and Burke have signed pro deals and will be looking forward to life in the Ipswich senior squad as they prepare for the start of the new 2011/12 Championship campaign which begins on Saturday. Congratulations lads, and good luck!
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