Northern Ireland put Wednesday’s disgraceful scenes behind them to win their fourth Milk Cup title on Friday night.
Stephen Craigan’s side won the Elite Section thanks to a 1-0 win over Canada at the Ballymena Showgrounds courtesy of a second half penalty from former Institute starlet Aaron McEneff.
Northern Ireland finished the tournament with a 100 per cent record – adding this win to successes over China and Mexico.
It was a welcome feelgood story following Wednesday’s ugly scenes of violence during the game with Mexico.
There was no repeat of those scenes in Ballymena, but Sheffield Wednesday man Simon Hanna did receive a red card in the second half for a second bookable offence.
Despite that, Tottenham star McEneff scored a penalty that was enough to give Northern Ireland both a 1-0 win and the Elite trophy.
Northern Ireland’s first chance of the match arrived in the sixth minute when winger Levi Ives flighted in a marvellous ball towards the back post. Comber lad Simon Hanna met the ball with a firm header but his effort was cleared by a Canadian defender.
The first chance of the second half fell to Kennedy in the 46th minute but his turn and shot was stopped by Nolan Wirth in the Canada goal.
Northern Ireland took control of the game in the 53rd minute when Kennedy burst into the Canada box.
The midfielder was brought to ground by Canada’s Luca Gasparotto. Referee Raymond Hetherington seemed to take an age to point to the spot, but he eventually gave the penalty.
McEneff stepped up and stroked the ball beyond Wirth with a low but powerful penalty to give Northern Ireland the lead.
Canada thought they had equalised within 10 seconds of the opening goal. While the Northern Ireland team celebrated in front of the home stand Canada took a quick kick-off and ran towards goal, where striker Dylan Carreiro slotted the ball past Chris Johns.
Carreiro and his team-mates protested furiously when referee Hetherington disallowed the goal as Northern Ireland were not ready.
The home nation looked totally baffled by the bizarre incident, as none of them bar goalkeeper Johns had noticed the Canadians’ cunning move.
Dale Gorman was introduced to the field of play in the 68th minute.
The youngster made headlines around the world on Wednesday night after he was the victim of a crude kick by Mexican player Carlos Arreloa.
Although the incident looked nasty, Gorman’s injuries were minimal and he received a warm round of applause when he entered the pitch.
Sheffield Wednesday man Hanna then received his second yellow card of the game for a rash challenge on Canada’s Luca Gaspearotto.
Hanna was furious with referee Hetherington, but in truth it appeared a straightforward decision for the local official.
Northern Ireland hung on to win the game and the trophy, although Canada defender Luca Gasparotto won the Elite Player of the Tournament award.
Northern Ireland: Johns, Doherty, Harney, Lowe, Ives, Gray (62 Smart), McCawl, McEneff, Hanna, Kennedy, Mullan (68 Gorman).
Subs: Smart, Mitchell, Glendinning, McDonagh, Fallon.
Canada: Wirth, Duncan, Comsia, Gasparotto, Beland-Goyette, Huitema, Carreiro (89 Jalali), Manuel (68 Nanco), Haynes (78 Kennedy), Cabrera (57 Boakai), Frose.
Subs: Saint-Cyr, Farmer, Ferguson, Carducci.