The County Antrim & District Football Association (also known as the North East Ulster Football Association but more commonly as the Co. Antrim FA) is the largest of the four regional divisional football associations within Northern Ireland being affiliated to the Irish FA; the others being the Mid-Ulster FA, the Northwest of Ireland FA and the Fermanagh & Western FA.
The Co. Antrim FA held its inaugural meeting on 23 April 1888 at the Commercial Hotel, Donegall Street, Belfast. The founding seven member clubs were Belfast Athletics, Cliftonville, Clarence, Distillery, YMCA, Oldpark and Whiteabbey. These clubs were joined shortly thereafter by Ballyclare, Linfield Athletics, Mountcollyer and Beechmount. In the intervening years the membership has grown from these eleven clubs to in excess of 500.
Aided by a grant from the Irish FA, the Co. Antrim FA set about organising a competition for its members, the County Antrim Senior Challenge Shield, for which the first round draw was made in November 1888. A fund raising match was also organised and held between Cliftonville and "The Rest", and a first representative fixture, lost 6-2 to a touring side from Canada. In the first few years of its existence, Co. Antrim FA XIs also faced teams representing Co. Londonderry, Mid-Ulster and the Irish FA.
Continued expansion of football in the region permitted the Co. Antrim FA to found further competitions, namely the Steel & Sons Cup in 1895, the County Antrim Junior Shield in 1900 and more recently, the Women’s Challenge Cup in 2013.
In 1988, to celebrate the Co. Antrim FA's centenary a special competition was organised - The County Antrim FA Centenary Chalice. The specially produced crystal trophy was won by Glentoran who defeated Ballymena United 4-2 in the final at Windsor Park, Belfast. That same season a County Antrim Select lost 6-2 to a combined Mid-Ulster/North-West Select in a commemorative match at Windsor Park
Co. Antrim FA now has over 500 member teams, spread beyond the traditional boundaries of Co. Antrim and membership comes from all levels of football within Northern Ireland; from the senior, intermediate, junior and youth leagues and includes the reserve teams of many IFA Premiership clubs.
The four main County Antrim FA competitions are:
Senior Challenge Shield (founded 1888) - Open to senior and selected intermediate teams (usually based on performances in the previous season's Steel & Sons Cup).
Steel & Sons Cup (founded 1895) - Open to intermediate teams only, including senior clubs' reserve teams.
Junior Challenge Shield (founded 1900) - Open to junior teams only
Women’s Challenge Cup (founded 2013) – Open to affiliated Women’s teams
County Antrim FA is made up of the following committees which deal with the running of the various aspects of the game.
Senior Shield Committee
Steel & Sons Cup Committee
Junior Shield Committee
Women’s Cup Committee
Members of the committees form the Council, which is chaired by the President of the Co. Antrim FA., and members are also nominated to Committees at the Irish Football Association, thereby representing the interests of football at all levels of the game.
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