Dundalk man Garry Hoey will jet off to Istanbul with the Irish Amputee football squad to the European Championships at the end of the month.
Garry has been playing amputee football since 2013, following a workplace accident which saw him lose part of his leg. An active sportsman beforehand, the game has given him an entry back into competitive sport. A chance which he has taken with both hands
Ireland have been drawn in a tough group alongside 2014 World Cup winners Russia, England and Greece, where they will be hoping to progress to the knockout stages with a top-two finish.
The Boys in Green can even make it to the quarter-finals as one of the two best third-placed teams. Ultimately a place at the next World Cup is Ireland’s aim, something which a top-six finish at the upcoming tournament would guarantee.
“It’s going to be tough to get out of the group,” Garry told The Dundalk Democrat.
“Russia are the world champions and England are a formidable outfit who we have played quite a lot but are yet to beat.”
The team meet once a month for an intensive training weekend at the University of Limerick with team members travelling from the four corners of Ireland to partake.
An amputee soccer team consists of a seven-a-side team with the six outfielders being leg amputees playing with crutches, while the ‘keeper is an arm amputee.
Local sportswear manufacturer CX Sport have come on board to provide some training gear for the 13-man strong squad heading to the upcoming European Championships – a tournament being staged by UEFA for the first time.
The Irish team are FAI affiliated having fallen under the national body’s ‘Football for All programme’.
While Garry is the only local player involved with the senior squad, he would like to see more players getting involved in the sport. And you never know, a European title may just inspire the next generation of Irish amputee soccer players.