Author: Laura Hillen

Proud supporter and PRO at NCAFC.

The National Lottery Football Weekend

National Lottery Players Thanked for Covid Support with Free Football Tickets at Newry City AFC.

Newry City AFC joins National Lottery Football Weekends Campaign to Celebrate Local Football Clubs and Communities

National Lottery players across the country, including those from Newry City AFC are being given the chance to watch their local football teams for free as a thank you for the over £12.5 million of National Lottery funding which helped these community clubs survive when the Covid pandemic struck and football at this level effectively shut down.

The National Lottery Football Weekends campaign will make over 100,000 tickets available on a ‘Buy One Get One Free’ basis for National Lottery players for selected matches in March and April, including at Newry City AFC.  It aims to get people out to watch and really get behind their local team, perhaps for the first time, and experience the vital role these clubs play as part of their local community.

Thanks to National Lottery players, during the height of the Covid crisis a total support package of over £12.5 million from The National Lottery was made available and proved vital for many local clubs across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, including Newry City AFC to survive the loss of essential matchday revenue as football shut down.

The National Lottery Football Weekends is to thank National Lottery players for stepping up when they were needed the most. The special ‘Buy One Get One Free’ ticket offer will be available to National Lottery players for a game at one of the 231 participating clubs in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.* The ticket offer will apply to the Queens  home match, taking place on 19/03/2022.

The campaign will be delivered in partnership with the Vanarama National League, The FA (Football Association), The Scottish FA (Scottish Football Association) FAW (Football Association of Wales) and NIFA (Northern Ireland Football Association) and is also backed by well-known ex-footballers Ally McCoist and Karen Carney.


Martin McLoughlin, Chair of Newry City AFC said,

“It was a difficult time for so many during the pandemic and it felt like our club had a bleak future at times.  To have National Lottery players step in and help us survive through to getting fans back through the gates was amazing.  This is a great way to celebrate that support – the importance of clubs like ours and to give people the chance to sample the unique experience of football at this level. We can’t wait to welcome people to our ground.”


Former Scottish international and National Lottery Football Weekends Ambassador McCoist said:

“In nearly every corner of the country you will find a football club which does much more than just kick a ball around on a Saturday afternoon.  These clubs make a difference to so many in their community and they suffered perhaps more than any other part of our game during the pandemic.  The support of National Lottery players has been crucial in helping them survive and now you can support them again, but this time from the terraces.”


To find out more about The National Lottery Football Weekends and to find your nearest match visit

Each club will be responsible for distributing tickets for its home match and details on how to claim will be available from each club. Terms and conditions apply.

The money for this campaign, as well as the initiatives with the various FAs and leagues across the UK during Covid came from a National Lottery promotional fund, it was not funded by money allocated for National Lottery Good Causes or by Camelot.

The National Lottery is also working alongside Non-League Day, a campaign set up in 2010 to encourage supporters of clubs playing at the highest levels of the game to support their smaller local or non-league club and sample the unique matchday experience of football at local level.

The National Lottery has always played a vital role in supporting elite, community and grassroot sport in the UK.  Including football, The National Lottery has invested more than £5.7 billion into grassroots sport since it was established in 1994. In the last year nearly £395 million was given to grassroots and elite sport good causes, funding everything from facilities to playing fields and creating opportunities for everyone to get active and improve their lives through sport.

There are other opportunities for National Lottery players in March.  The National Lottery Open Week takes place between 19th – 27th March to say thank you for the more than £30 million raised every week by National Lottery players.  Open Week unlocks free entry and exclusive discounts for National Lottery players at a range of participating venues including galleries, museums, gardens, historic castles and sports stadiums. Full Ts&Cs apply and are available at

Mullen on the Case

Newry City AFC Manager Darren Mullen is delighted to confirm the loan signing of Odhran Casey from Cliftonville FC.

Mullen commented “With Ryan McGivern out injured for a while and some of our defenders playing with injuries it was important to make sure we didn’t leave ourselves short in that area. I spoke to Paddy McLaughlin earlier in the week about Odhran and I’m delighted to be able to bring a player of his quality in at this stage of the season. He has played for Cliftonville’s first team and is a former youth international so although only 19 he comes with experience and at 6’2’’ will give us an aerial presence that we currently lack. I feel we now have a squad fit to cope with the run in and Odhran is a very welcome addition to the club.”

Odhran Casey “I am very happy to sign for Newry on loan until the end of the season and I am looking forward to the new challenge. I watched the lads play on Friday night against Dundela and I was really impressed with the football they play. The atmosphere at the ground was brilliant, there seems to be a great buzz around the place so I can’t wait to get started and be part of the push towards a return to the Premiership.”


Today we are launching our ‘DESIGN THE MATCH POSTER’ competition for kids aged p5-p7. We’re giving you the opportunity to design the poster for our game on the 28 January against Dundela. The winning child will have their artwork displayed everywhere advertising the match, they’ll get a free jersey and a family pass to the game and there’ll be prizes for the top 10 entries. Every entrant will also receive a FREE Junior Member card ensuring free entry to all remaining home league games this season.

We’re delivering thousands of entry sheets to over 30 schools in the area but if you have not received one you can download a PDF from our website and do it at home.

Make sure and have your parent or guardian return entries in by Friday 21st January! GOOD LUCK!


Smyth Signs on Loan

Newry Manager Darren Mullen is pleased to confirm the loan signing of Odhran Smyth from Dungannon Swifts. 💬 “Once we knew Odhran was available it was an easy decision. He’s a player with good technical ability but also well fit for the physical side of the game. Other clubs had been interested in him but he was keen to join us and comes to us with the experience of playing Premiership football. I’d like to thank Dean Shiels and Simon Graham from Dungannon for their help in making this loan move happen.”
Odhran commented “I am delighted to get the deal over the line and can’t wait to get started. Hopefully I can hit the ground running on Saturday in the Irish Cup and help push the team towards promotion this year.”


Newry City AFC Manager Darren Mullen is delighted to welcome Lorcan Forde to the club as his first signing of the January window.

💬 Mullen commented “Lorcan is an excellent signing for us and one I’m sure the fans will be delighted with. He is a player with an abundance of talent and fits perfectly into our style of play. It’s a signing that shows we are continually looking to improve and I’ve no doubt he will flourish in the blue and white of his hometown club.”

Lorcan added “I am very excited to get started. When the opportunity arose I couldn’t turn down the chance to play for my home town team. I enjoyed my time at Loughgall but I want to kick on and hopefully win the league and get back playing in the Premiership. I have played with most of the lads before so hopefully I will settle in quick, start winning games and scoring goals.”