Stephen Craigan hails his players following Elite final triumph at Dale Farm Milk Cup

Northern Ireland's players celebrate their Elite win
Northern Ireland's players celebrate their Elite win

Northern Ireland boss Stephen Craigan hailed his players’ character following their Elite Section success at the Dale Farm Milk Cup on Friday night.

A second half penalty from Tottenham man Aaron McEneff was enough to earn a 1-0 win over Canada at the Ballymena Showgrounds.

The win came just 48 hours after a tempestuous battle against Mexico that was marred by ugly scenes of violence on the pitch.

“It was a tough week with some of the scenes on Wednesday night and it wasn’t easy trying to get minds focused back on this game,” Craigan said.

“A lot has been said about what happened but we tried to keep the players away from it to keep them focused on the tournament and they have done themselves and Northern Ireland proud.”

Craigan was delighted with the performance of his Elite squad, who beat China, Mexico and Canada on their way to lifting the Elite trophy.

“We have to learn how to win football matches from the youth level right up to senior level,” he added.

“I am working with a template that we are using at all levels to try to bring whatever level of success we can.

“I am delighted with every one of them, though. We are playing at under-19 level here and our players are a 17 and 18. To lift that trophy is an amazing success and the enthusiasm within that squad is incredible.”