The squad then participated in the Decathlon Cup competition (a round robin event organised by Glentoran FC Academy) which involved Glentoran as hosts, the IOM, a Swansea City Development Centre team and the Northern Ireland Boys Football Association (NIBFA) National League Select team. The standard of competition was high and provided the boys with a variety of different challenges against tough opposition. The first game involved the IOM taking on the NIBFA National League Select, a squad that is comprised of the top talent from the National League competition that the 24 top teams in Northern Ireland partake in at individual age groups. Despite going a goal behind, the boys managed to equalise. Following that, a diving header from Charlie Higgins secured a 2-1 victory. The second fixture of the event resulted in a 0-0 draw with a Swansea City Development Centre team.
Before the final game of the event, the opening two games of which were played at the Blanchflower Playing Fields pitches, all players, staff and parents moved the short distance to The Oval, the home of Glentoran FC. The day was capped off with the final round robin fixtures taking place on The Oval where the IOM ended up second best after a 3-0 defeat to a talented Glentoran side. The IOM were delighted to hear Kyle Watson received one of the Man of the Match Tournament awards for his standout performance in the victory over the NIBFA National League Select side.
Friday saw an early evening kick off at Seaview, the home of Crusaders FC. The game ended in a comfortable victory and although the opposition was not at the standard of the previous day, it was a fantastic chance and experience to play at the home of the senior champions.
In the final days fixtures a double header was arranged with a morning game hosted by Carrick Rangers FC before an evening fixture with a side players from Ballymena United Youth Academy. A victory was recorded in the early fixture against Carrick Rangers before the side travelled to Ballymena for the evening fixture.
The game with Ballymena was a tough, physical affair, played at a high intensity. In a very tight game the home side ran out eventual winners by a 2-1 scoreline although the IOM more than played their part in what was a match not for the feint hearted.
A special thanks must go to Tim Wareing and David Sleator at TW Braga, Jason Lindsay and David Lowry at Glentoran Academy, Alan Coleman at Crusaders FC, Adrian Stewart of Carrick Rangers and Alan Millar of Ballymena United for providing opportunities for all of the boys to play in a variety of games that can only help them develop further.
A special thanks is also extended to the travelling parents, support staff and family supporters who accompanied the squad over the week.
Both coaches Gareth Lloyd and Gavin Gawne would like to thank the entire training and playing squad of the season 2016/17 for their continued efforts and commitment.
Finally the Isle of Man FA would like to thank both Gareth & Gavin as well as the parents who were in Belfast for supporting the children as they returned home.