Chairman Martin McLoughlin and Vice Chairman Gary Wilson with Damien Hillen new NCAFC Academy Manager. Brendan Monaghan Photography

Newry City AFC appoint new Academy Director

Newry City AFC are delighted to announce Damien Hillen as our new Newry City AFC Academy Director.

NCAFC Chairman Martin McLoughlin commented “The future of any club is its youth and in particular it’s Academy.  With a major project planned to install a new 3G facility behind our main pitch in the coming months we have decided to try a local angle for the academy and with that in mind we have recruited from within the first team coaching staff and are delighted to announce that Damien Hillen has agreed to take over the role of Academy Director. Damien comes with a wealth of experience and a great knowledge of the local soccer scene.
“We are excited for the future of our academy and look forward to building more locally sourced teams. In time we hope Newry City will be a hub for soccer and Damien we feel is the ideal candidate to help accomplish that goal.
“Our outgoing Academy Manager Francis Brennan has been instrumental in the building of our academy from its inception to what it is now and we thank him wholeheartedly for his efforts to date.  We wish Fra well in his coaching and soccer careers and look forward to welcoming him to The Showgrounds in the future.”

 

Damien Hillen NCAFC Academy Director. Brendan Monaghan Photography
Damien Hillen NCAFC Academy Director. Brendan Monaghan Photography

Damien Hillen commented “I am delighted to be appointed Academy Director at Newry City AFC. This is a significant role of real importance, and I look forward to building on the excellent foundations already in place.

“My focus is on making our Academy the number one choice for local players and their parents. We are building a culture of learning and development, where highly qualified coaches will provide a pathway for young players to progress into senior football at Newry or beyond.

“With the development of the new 3G pitch, it’s an exciting time to join the academy and together, we will create an environment where young talented players can flourish and achieve their full potential.”

 

 

Cover Photo: Chairman Martin McLoughlin and Vice Chairman Gary Wilson with Damien Hillen new NCAFC Academy Director.

Brendan Monaghan PhotographyPhotographs Courtesy of Brendan Monaghan Photography.

NCAFC First Team News

Newry City AFC are delighted to announce six of the current first-team squad have agreed new deals to remain at The Showgrounds.

 

Club captain Darren King, who has made almost 450 appearances in the blue and white stripes, will be back for another season. He’ll be joined by fellow defenders, former Northern Ireland international Ryan McGivern and Stephen Moan.

Ciaran O’Connor has also signed a new deal after signing permanently at the beginning of last season, while midfielders Georgie Poynton and Jordan Mooney are also back after their debut seasons with the club.

 

First team Manager Barry Gray says he’s delighted the six players have committed to the club for the 2024-25 season

Going forward into the new season it’s so important we have a squad that’s strong and familiar. The lads that have re-signed are key players moving forward and certainly boast huge experience which will be vital.

I’m pleased the lads have committed and speaking with each of them, I know they are extremely hungry and motivated to push standards and drive the team towards success again.

 

Fan favourite and club legend King, 38, made his debut in 2005 and has played for the club 435 times across two spells.

“I’m delighted to sign another season with my club. I felt every bit of agony that our supporters felt last season as I’m a Newry supporter first and a player second,” said ‘Engine’

After the disappointment of the past season and having some time off to rest and recuperate, the focus now has to be on working hard and getting back to enjoying football for players and supporters alike.  

“The last season we played in the Championship was one of the club’s best and most enjoyable in recent history, so let’s see if we can replicate that.”

 

34-year-old McGivern, who appeared for Manchester City in the Premier League and played for Hibs in the 2013 Scottish Cup Final defeat to Celtic, made 24 appearances for Northern Ireland up until 2016 and joined Newry from Linfield in 2021.

“Newry is my hometown club which I love,” said the 34-year-old, who has made 90 appearances for City.

“Growing up as a kid going to watch the games at The Showgrounds, Newry were always a Premiership side and when I signed, the aim was to try and get the club back to the Premiership and stay there where it belongs. That’s the sole aim and focus for the season ahead.

“In my opinion, our fans are easily the best in the country. They stick with us through thick and thin and our aim this season is to give them a team to be proud of and hopefully something to celebrate come the end of the season.”

 

Attacking midfielder O’Connor will also be at The Showgrounds next season. He initially joined on loan for the first part of the 2022-23 campaign from Glentoran, before joining on a permanent deal at the start of last season.

“I’m delighted to extend my stay at Newry. The fans, staff and volunteers have made me feel so welcome since the day I walked in the door,” says the 27-year-old Dundalk native.

“Obviously we had a poor season last year, but we’re looking forward to a new challenge and a big push to get this club back to the Premiership where we belong.”

 

Experienced defender Stephen Moan will be aiming to add to 112 appearances in the forthcoming season after being forced to miss large spells of the last campaign through injury.

“It’s great to be extending my stay at Newry for another season and hopefully we can get the club back where it belongs,” says the 33-year-old local.

“It was a tough season last year, both club wise and personally for myself with injuries, so hopefully we can enjoy a successful season this year.”

 

Two players from south of the border, Georgie Poynton and Jordan Mooney, are also back for another year at least following their debut seasons with Newry.

Former Dundalk, Shelbourne and Drogheda player Poynton, 26, who can operate in either defence or midfield, made 39 appearances last term.

“I’m really happy to stay at Newry, it’s a good club with good people and fan base who supported us through tough times last season,” he says.

This season it’s about giving the people something to cheer about and getting the club back to where it belongs.

“I’m really looking forward to a good preseason and hitting the ground running come August.”

 

21-year-old Mooney, found the net twice in 24 games last season and is looking forward to returning.  

“I’m delighted to be given another year at this great club,” he beamed.  

“Last season was extremely disappointing for everyone involved with the club and us players are the only ones that can put it right.

“That’s what we plan to do this coming season.”

Alex O'Brien - Photo Brendan Monaghan Photography

O’Brien Signs at The Showgrounds

Newry City AFC Manager Barry Gray is happy to finish off his January transfer business with the signing of Central Defensive Midfielder Alex O’Brien.

 

Gray commented “It is great to get another player on board. Alex is youthful and hungry to build his senior experience having spent the last four years at Bohemians FC Academy. He brings us much needed defensive cover and we look forward to getting hands on with him on the training pitch and hopefully soon on the main stage.”

Francis McCaffrey - Photo Brendan Monaghan Photography

MCCAFFREY SIGNS AT THE SHOWGROUNDS

Newry City AFC are delighted to announce the signing of Francis McCaffrey on a long-term deal.

 

Barry Gray commented “I am delighted to have Fra onboard, Fra is a highly respected Premiership player with a lot of experience. I believe this will be vital to us moving forward into the big head-to-head games.

 

“Fra will add depth and experience and having worked with him previously I know exactly what to expect from him. I’m looking forward to seeing him on the pitch soon and have no doubt he’ll be a fans favourite.”

 

McCaffrey commented “The opportunity to play football in the Premiership again was too good to turn down. I’m happy to be here at Newry, it is a challenge that I am well up for and I can’t wait to get started. I know a lot of the lads and played against them all so I will fit right into squad.”

 

Photograph Courtesy of Brendan Monaghan Photography

Funding secured for 3G Pitch

Newry City AFC Board of Directors can today confirm that their applications for funding for the development of a new 3G Synthetic Playing Pitch, Floodlights and Fencing for the Club have been successful.

 The new development will be located at the “Back Pitch” at Newry Showgrounds and is the first phase of a very ambitious Strategic Plan for the Club.

One of the main sources of funding for this project is the Irish FA/DCMS Grassroots Facilities Investment Fund. This fund, supported by the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is administered by the Irish FA supported by Co-operation Ireland.  The Club also received financial support from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Community Finance Ireland.

Club Chairman Martin Mc Loughlin stated, “Today is a very special day for Newry City AFC and is the culmination of many years of dedicated work by our Board. I would like to personally thank our funders for having the courage to support our Club, namely; Department of Culture Media and Sport, Irish Football Association, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and Community Finance Ireland

Martin continued, “This development will have a major impact on the future of our club and will hopefully lead to a very positive influence on all those involved with the club. Our Youth Academy will now have state of the art facilities to develop their plans and we feel this project will attract many new players and coaches to our teams.

The development will enhance grassroots sport in the City of Newry and the South East Region. The new facility will be an asset that will benefit the wider community and enable local people to get active to improve health and wellness in our city.

In conclusion, I would like to thank all those people both internally and externally for helping us get to this massive investment announcement today and I look forward to March 2024 when the groundwork for our new 3G Pitch commences”.

Irish FA CEO Patrick Nelson said: “Good grassroots football facilities means a better experience for everyone participating in the game, at whatever level they’re at.

 “This funding will provide 11 new artificial grass pitches and upgrade six existing pitches across Northern Ireland.

 “It aligns with our commitment to support new and improved facilities and, with the hosting of the UEFA EURO 2028 in the UK and Ireland, it is crucial that the grassroots game across the nation benefits from investment too.”