A Donegal and Sligo player have been named the Ireland Senior CP Squad for the World Championships in Argentina next month.
Merville United’s Thomas Maher and Ballybofey’s Oisin Merritt are part of the squad that reached the Paralympics in Rio last year and will head into the tournament looking to make a mark on the world stage.
Former Finn Harps player Merritt makes the squad having made national headlines in 2014 when he survived death after a fall from a balcony on a holiday in Spain left him in a coma and fighting for life.
Coach Paul Breen can also call upon experienced pair Gary Messett and Dillon Sheridan in his squad, which includes eight of the squad that participated in the Paralympics in Rio last year.
“Gary has previously won Player of the Tournament at the European Championships and it will be the experience of players such as Gary and Dillon will be hugely important considering that six players are stepping up to this level for the first time,” said Breen.
Ireland are drawn in Group A with Brazil, Canada and Spain. The top two in the group progress to the quarter-finals with third and fourth going into the classification stage for places 9th to 16th.
The Irish commence their campaign against Spain in our opening game on Sunday, September 10. They meet the Canadians two days later then play Brazil on Thursday September 14.
“We have prepared well for the tournament and we are really looking forward now to getting there and putting all the hard work that the staff and players have been doing into action,” said Breen.
“Although it is a tough group we are in our first objective is to get out of the group and into the quarter finals and I know the players are relishing the challenge. I’ve been happy with the progress that the players have made over the last few months in training.
“Tournament football is tough for any player but particularly so for CP players. With a game almost every second day the use of the squad and recovery will be very important for us.
“Conditions wise it will be their spring time in San Luis so temperatures will be like a good summer’s day here. Temperatures can reach as high as 25C degrees at this time of year but averaging around 20C degrees. If the temperatures are high it will be another challenge we will have to manage.”
CP football is uniquely different to traditional 11-a-side football as it is a 7-a-side game and players have a classification based on their physical attributes which impacts on how the coaches can use them or make changes in games.
“Class 8 would be our least affected player and we are only permitted to have one class 8 on the pitch at any time. Class 5 and 6 would be more affected by CP and we must have at least two of the players on the pitch. Class 7 (hemiplegia) will make up the rest of the team and a class 7 is affected on one side of their body.
“So we also have to take this into consideration when selecting the squad, picking a starting team and making substitutions so it can be more complex than 11-a-side football in that regard. For example, it may not necessarily be the case that your class 5 players play in the same positions so making substitutions can result in team tactical changes and positional changes for other players.”
The Irish players are selected from across the country and the majority are playing amateur football in well known leagues including the Leinster Senior League, Munster Senior League, AUL, Donegal League, UCL, MDL, Limerick and Sligo Leitrim.
“There is a lot of excitement amongst the group ahead of this challenge and it is worth noting that there will be an Ireland team playing in a World Championships this September,” added Breen.
“We will be travelling to Argentina just as the Ireland MNT kick off their game against Serbia so hopefully when we touch down in Buenos Aires we’ll be hearing a good result for Martin O’Neill and his squad.”
The tournament can be followed online at: https://www.ifcpf.com/tournaments/view/45 with a number of games to be streamed live.
Ireland Senior CP Squad
Goalkeepers: Carl McKee (Swords Manor), James Naughton (Development Squad)
Defenders: Mark Barry (Kilmount Boys), Dylan O’Brien (Lucan United), Aaron Tier (Star Rovers)
Midfielders: Tom Badun (St Kevin’s Boys), Oisin Merritt (Ballybofey United), Peter Cotter (Everton AFC), Gary Messett (Arklow Town), Conor Tuite (Newfoundwell FC), Thomas Maher (Merville United)
Forwards: Dillon Sheridan (Palmerstown FC), Ryan Nolan (Rathmichael FC), Sam Carroll (Glencormac United)
IFCPF CP Football World Championships / San Luis Argentina 2017
Sunday, September 10
Ireland v Spain, Stadium J.G.Funes (14:00 Irish)
Tuesday, September 12
Ireland v Canada, Stadium J.G.Funes (16:00 Irish)
Thursday, September 14
Brazil v Ireland, Stadium Estancia Grande (16:00 Irish)