IRELAND’S NATIONAL homeless soccer team have taken bronze in the Dignitary Cup competition at the Homeless World Cup in Paris.
A spirited Irish side, led by sharpshooting captain Gerard Twohig, saw the Boys in Green overcome England by 10 goals to 4 (take that, Manchester teams!) in the third-place play-off of the four-a-side tournament.
The Irish performance in their finale was made all the more impressive by the fact that the side had been walloped 5-0 by Poland in their semi-final; Poland went on to lose the decider 7-3 to Russia.
Ireland did not participate in the World Cup outright, but five lower-tier tournaments were also held alongside the top competition. The top tier was won by Scotland, who defeated Mexico 4-3 in the final to take overall honours.
Mexico’s final heartbreak was made worse by the fact that its women’s side lost its final too – with Kenya claiming the women’s crown, also on a 4-3 scoreline.
The Irish squad of eight was selected from the Big Issue in Ireland’s Street Soccer League, a national competition featuring over 500 players from around the country.
Team manager Sean Kavanagh, who founded the league from which the team was selected, said his charges be “truly proud of their performances in Paris”, where they officially finished 11th out of 48 teams.
“It’s been a long and tiring ten days, but the memories of the performances and the friends made will linger long in the player’s minds long after this tournament is over.
“I hope it will give them the impetus to move on in life and act as a stimulus for change.”
The Dignitary Cup was the third-tier tournament at the Homeless World Cup, which was part-funded by UEFA and Nike and took place at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.
48 countries took part in the men’s tournament, while 16 participated in the women’s competition.