Irish Homeless team back to rousing airport reception

By Maurice Garvey

THE Irish Homeless football team arrived back to a rousing reception in Dublin Airport on Sunday with a trophy from the Homeless World Cup in Wales.

Led by Clondalkin men – team organiser Sean Kavanagh and coached by former Blackburn Rovers midfielder Thomas Morgan – the team beat Hungary 6-5 in a dramatic plate final at Bute Park in Cardiff.

Irish Homeless WC team 2 1

That winning feeling!

A tough draw in the second group stage saw Ireland up against top sides Mexico and Chile, two teams who would ultimately contest the main final – with Mexico winning.

Despite not qualifying from the second stage group for the main cup, Ireland entered the Glyndwr Cup and hammered Norway 8-0 in the quarter finals, Indonesia 8-3 in the semis, before winning the cup against Hungary – effectively finishing 17th out of 44 teams in the competition.

It was “a privilege for coaches and support staff to be a part of,” according to Ireland’s Big Issue editor and Clondalkin resident Sean Kavanagh.

“Winning the cup is a magnificent achievement. More importantly the knowledge that you have represented your country with pride, have overcome many obstacles just getting here, knowing you gave it your best shot,” he said.

The Irish team included Laurence Bryan (38), from Brookfield, Tallaght, a former convicted armed robber lucky to survive a barbaric prison assault two years ago, which left him with 19 stab wounds, including a slit throat.

Irish Homeless World Cup team 1 1The Irish Homeless football team proudly show off the trophy

Speaking to The Echo prior to the tournament, Bryan recalled how he was looking forward to the tournament, having joined the street leagues while in rehab at Coolmine.

“These lads have given it their all since being chosen to represent Ireland,” said Kavanagh, who established the Irish Street Leagues and Irish Homeless World cup team in 2002.

Irish Homeless WC Laurence Bryan 1

Laurence Bryan is delighted with the success

“It has not been easy, the training, familiarising yourself with the format and tactics of tournament play and the fear and pressures that come with representing your country in a world tournament. The intensity of competition has to be seen live to be fully appreciated.”

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