Manchester United returned to SuperCupNI (formerly the Milk Cup) after a two-year absence with a victory against Northern Ireland thanks to Nishan Burkart's 9th-minute half-volley.
The Reds impressed at Coleraine Showgrounds in the curtain raiser for the prestigious tournament, which gets underway on Sunday, July 23rd.
Burkart strike sees United triumph
Captain Callum Whelan, who didn't miss a single minute of league football last season for United at this age level, assisted Burkart after a cutback from Lee O'Connor, the fantastic 16-year-old right-back who captains Republic of Ireland's under-17 side. Whelan delivered a mid-height cross into space in the penalty area with a first time ball, Burkart allowed it to come across his body before powerfully driving it past Larkin after nine minutes.
United dominated proceedings, with wonderful, intricate, patient football at times, particularly after a string of second half substitutes on the 60-minute mark. Northern Ireland, though, threatened on at least three occasions.
Burns threatens for N Ireland
The closest the hosts came was when Bobby Burns struck the crossbar with a powerful long-range drive after a yard of space opened up for the youngster. He was involved heavily throughout, crossing for substitute Ryan Strain in the 88th minute. With too much time to think, though, Strain headed wide.
Daniel Reynolds, meanwhile, also missed a late opportunity, his shot dropping onto the roof of the net after United goalkeeper Theo Richardson, signed from Leeds United in March, came out to punch a cross clear.
It was a deserved win for an entertaining and exciting Man United side, as they collected a small piece of silverware in a Challenge Match in Northern Ireland. Fans were able to see a few new signings in action as former-Chelsea centre-back Dishon Bernard came on as a substitute and prevented a one-on-one with a strong, well-timed tackle. Arnau Puigmal, Aliou Traoré and Largie Ramazani weren't involved, while the Northern Irish Ethan Galbraith was also unavailable as well as goalkeeper Jacob Carney.
Left-back Brandon Williams was the Man of the Match for United, with stunning acceleration and close control on the flank as he attacked frequently but under-16 striker Mason Greenwood, the only member of that younger squad to travel with the Reds to Austria for a recent pre-season training camp, was similarly effective.
United enjoy SuperCupNI return
It's a happy return to a competition with a great history for United, having dropped out during Louis van Gaal's time in charge of the club. Their under-15s will now play in the full competition over the next week or so.