The European Amputee Football Federation's Annual Congress will take place in Dublin this year on the weekend of the 10-12 February. The Irish Amputee Football Association and the FAI will host delegates from 14 countries across Europe for the weekend when they will discuss the future development of the sport across the continent. Those attending include hosts Ireland, reigning world champions Russia, as well as, European Championship hosts Turkey. European Amputee Football has grown from strength to strength in recent years. European Amputee Football took centre stage at the 2014 World Cup with three teams, Russia (1st), Turkey (3rd) and Poland (4th), finishing within the top five of the 20 team competition. The EAFF was later established in February 2015 on the back of this success. In 2016 the EAFF created the Amputee Football Weeks initiative to further develop the sport of amputee football in Europe raising awareness by encouraging nations to showcase their rising stars. The initiative saw 11 countries host both junior and senior events; tournaments, matches, open training sessions and demonstrations between May 14th and June 12th. In October 2017 Turkey will host the EAFF's first European Championships with qualification for the 2018 Amputee Football World Cup at stake. The delegates will have much to discuss and the future of European Amputee Football is looking very bright.
IAFA International manager Chris McElligott was selected as one of five leaders for the 2017 edition of RTE's weight loss and healthy living programme Operation Transformation. Chris hopes to inspire the public as he tackles his weight and fitness through the 8-week programme and is determined not to allow his amputation to get in his way. Chris lost his leg in a traffic accident in 2001. A legend of domestic soccer in Ireland, Chris had played for St. Patrick's Athletic and Monaghan United in the Irish Premier League, won the FAI Junior Cup with his hometown club, Ballymun United, and amassed 17 Junior International caps with Ireland before he became an amputee. In 2011 Chris returned to the game he loves and was instrumental in the foundation of the Irish Amputee Football Association. Chris acted as player-manager of the IAFF for the 2012 and 2013 seasons but chose to concentrate on coaching and managing the International team thereafter. A master tactician, possessing invaluable experience of the game, Chris has managed Ireland at various tournaments across Europe, as well as, at the Amputee Football World Cup in Mexico in 2014. Now Chris feels he's ready to prove his own fitness and is aiming to pull on the green jersey again at the upcoming EAFF European Championships in Turkey this October. In his first two weeks on the programme Chris has already lost an incredible 15 and a half pounds and has been an inspiration to anyone who has watched and followed him.
You can follow Chris's journey over at: https://ot.rte.ie/leaders/chris-mcelligott/day-16/?view=full
Who knows, later this year we may see more of this from 'The Gaffer'...
Republic of Ireland legends Damien Duff and Robbie Keane joined Noel King and former League of Ireland players, lining up against the Irish Amputee Football Association's International, for a challenge game at the FAI's headquarters in Abbotstown in December. Duff became an ambassador for the IAFA in 2015 and has been helping raise awareness for the sport of Amputee Football in Ireland ever since. Duff has held training sessions with the IAFA squad, attended the first ever EAFF Junior training camp held in Dublin in March 2015 and played a key role in arranging this match. The Irish Amputees got the opportunity to showcase their sport to the former internationals, who even gave the game a go for themselves, using crutches to play the second half. The IAFA would like to extend their warmest appreciation to all those who played on the day, to Robbie, Noel and to Damien whose continued support is invaluable to the association.
Between May 14th and June 12th 2016 the European Amputee Football Federation are promoting the sport of Amputee Football across Europe through their Amputee Football Weeks initiative. 10 countries across the continent will play host to events, tournaments, demonstrations and junior training camps, to showcase the sport. The IAFA International squad travel to Poland to compete in the second annual Podhale Amp Futbol Cup. Our Irish Amps will look to improve on last years second place finish when they take on hosts Poland, old rivals Ukraine and tournament debutants Germany. UL Sport Amputee Football Club complete their season on June 11th at the EAFA League Cup in Birmingham. The Limerick side will look to cap off a fine debut season that saw them finish second in the EAFA League to Peterborough on goal difference. The IAFA Junior Academy will host a Junior Training Camp at the University of Limerick on the same weekend. Junior Amputees from across the country will come together for a fun filled weekend of coaching and games. The Academy is growing from strength to strength. Following the incredibly successful European Junior Training Camp held in Dublin in March the IAFA Juniors demonstrated their skills and abilities at the recent FAI Junior Cup Final at the Aviva Stadium. Stay tuned for updates on what promises to be an incredibly exciting few weeks for European and Irish Amputee Football.
ULSport Amputee Football Club finished fourth in the EAFA Takeda League Cup on Saturday June 11th. The competition was played as part of the European Amputee Football Federation's Amputee Football Development Weeks. 8 teams from England, Scotland and Ireland competed through 2 groups for the top prize. UL started the day brightly recording wins against Partick Thistle (4-0) and Manchester City (1-0) and drawing with Arsenal (0-0) to top their group. Having secured 7 points from a possible 9, scoring 5 goals and keeping 3 clean sheets the UL squad were in buoyant spirits as they advanced to the knockout stages.
UL met Peterborough in their semi-final, the side that had narrowly beaten them to the League title in May. UL dominated the game, created numerous chances but were unable to make them pay and Peterborough held out for a draw. The game would be decided by a penalty shootout. Both teams scored each of their first 3 penalties but when UL missed their fourth, Peterborough converted theirs to move on to the final. Everton beat Peterborough (1-0) in the final, having beaten Man City (1-0) in their semi-final, to lift the Takeda Cup.
UL were beaten (1-0) by Man City in the 3rd/4th place playoff, having given their absolute all to secure a place in the final in their previous match. There were a number of top performances from the Irishmen yesterday. Alan Wall scored all 5 of UL's goals, player/manager Simon Baker remained solid at the back throughout the tournament and the team's youngest member Neil Hoey showed great versatility performing well at the back and in a central midfield role.
The Limerick side capped off an impressive season without any silverware but with 4 very solid performances. The club, Ireland's first Amputee Football club, has gone from strength to strength since its inception last Autumn and will undoubtedly be looking to compete for the League/Cup double next season.
The IAFA International squad finished second at the Podhale Amp Futbol Cup for the second year in a row drawing with Poland (1-1) and Ukraine (0-0) and beating Germany (5-3) over the weekend of the 4th-5th of June. Following an impressive performance last year at the same competition that saw them narrowly lose out to the hosts the Irish squad hoped to go one better this year and lift the coveted trophy. Unfortunately, despite three very impressive performances the Irish side were once again bettered by hosts Poland. Ireland went unbeaten through the tournament for the first time in the associations history and took yet another step towards bridging the gap between themselves and Poland, currently ranked 4th in the World and one of Europe's top Amputee Football teams.
Poland 1-1 Ireland
Ireland kicked off the tournament labelled the 'mini Euros' against hosts Poland. These two sides had met on 4 previous occasions and each time the Poles emerged victorious so this was set to be Ireland's toughest fixture, one that would have a significant bearing on the destination of the cup. But Ireland started brightly. David Saunders broke powerfully down the right but his cross was cut out. Ireland enjoyed some early pressure but failed to really work the Polish keeper. Defensively Ireland remained solid and compact and captain James Conroy in the Irish goal, who would later scoop the prize for Goalkeeper of the Tournament, was rarely called into action. Neither side could break the deadlock before the break. The Polish improved in the second half and pushed further forward. They won a succession of corners but still couldn't find a lead goal. Ireland were then awarded a free-kick on the right hand side of the Polish box with 10 minutes left to play. Alan Wall stepped up confidently and thumped the ball around the Polish wall and into the top left corner of the net. Ireland led and Poland were rattled. A mistake allowed Kevan O'Rourke to break free of the Polish defence on the halfway line and race through on the keeper. His strike went wide of the left hand post unfortunately as Polish defenders got back to apply the necessary pressure. Ireland hung on and tried to grind out the result until in stoppage time the Poles equalised. Moments away from an historic win the Irish side remained proud of their performance and knew that they were still in with every chance of winning the competition.
Ireland 0-0 Ukraine
Ireland and Ukraine have a long history in the sport of Amputee Football. They had met on 4 previous occasions, twice at the World Cup in Mexico in 2014. There is no love lost between the sides and this game proved to be a highly competitive, tough and physical contest. Again Ireland started brightly. Three good chances fell to David Saunders (1) and Kevan O'Rourke (2) but both players failed to direct Alan Wall's fine crosses into the Ukraine goal. Craig Dowlng too almost capitalised on a defensive mix up but his delicate chip was deflected out for a corner. Ukraine who had already secured 3 points against Germany in their first game set up to frustrate Ireland. The sides remained level at halftime and while Ukraine did improve in the second half they created very few opportunities on the Irish goal. Ireland defended well, held their shape and continued in their attempts to break Ukraine down. Ireland threatened from set pieces and had a couple of penalty claims waved away by the referees. Kevan O'Rourke played a ball across the penalty area that was taken out of Craig Dowling's path by a sliding challenge from the Ukrainian captain. The Eastern European's did carve out a chance in the dying moments of the game as Ireland tired but they were denied by the woodwork and the sides ultimately finished level. Another performance the Irish amputees could be proud of. They had only once recorded a win against Ukraine and were unlucky not to break them down on a couple of occasions during this game.
Ireland 5-3 Germany
Ireland's 2 points meant that they had to win their final game against Germany to be in with any chance of winning the competition. Their chance was, however, dependent on the result of the final game of the competition between Poland and Ukraine. Despite creating chances early on Ireland were dealt a blow when Germany opened the scoring with a dubious goal. The German striker, unseen by the referees, touched the ball with his crutch past Justin Guiney in the Irish goal. Ireland reacted positively, however, Alan Wall's strike rattled the German crossbar, the German's failed to clear their lines and Kevin 'Butch' Cahillane tapped into an empty net to score his first ever international goal. The German's would take the lead for a second time, however, a defensive mistake allowed Germany to make it 1-2. Ireland finished the half the stronger side. David Saunders headed home from an Alan Wall corner to draw the sides level again, like Cahillane scoring his first ever goal for Ireland in the process. The second half would prove as frantic as the first but Ireland began the control the game better. Ireland took the lead through Craig Dowling, captaining the side on his final appearance before leaving for Canada in September. The Germans again failed to clear their lines from an Irish corner, Alan Wall slid a ball through to Dowling who finished powerfully. Ireland then made it 4-2. 'Butch' Cahillane whipped a dangerous ball into the German penalty area that deflected off a defender and found its way to the back of the net. The Germans struck back one final time. A defensive error followed by a deflection left Justin Guiney with no chance and Germany were back in it. Saunders stepped up again, however, to put the result beyond doubt. He picked the ball up in space and curled a delightful effort with the outside of his right boot past a flailing German keeper. Poland beat Ukraine 3-0 in the final game claiming the cup for the second year in a row but the Irish team know they ran the hosts close and can be very proud of a valiant effort in Poland over the weekend.
IAFA Squad, Podhale Amp Futbol Cup 2016:
James Conroy (C), Justin Guiney, Garry Hoey, Kevin Cahillane, David Saunders, Kevan O'Rourke, Alan Wall, Craig Dowling, Neil Hoey
Christy McElligott (Manager), Ross Ó Cionaoith (Coach), Alan Heary (Performance Coach), Daniel Boyle (Kit Man), Mark Barry (Physio)
In their debut season UL Sport Amputee FC were beaten to the EAFA League Title by Peterborough by the very narrowest of margins; goal difference. Oxford City FC hosted the final round of EAFA league fixtures on Saturday May 21st. 3 teams began the day with a chance of lifting the trophy. ULSAFC had it all to do, 2 points behind second placed Everton and 6 off leaders and reigning champions Peterborough. UL had to ensure that they secured all 9 points on offer and hope that other results would go their way. 3 fantastic performances meant that the Limerick side did all they possibly could and despite finishing on the same points as Peterborough (30), the English side's superior goal difference saw them pip UL to the title.
ULSAFC 3-0 Portsmouth
UL started the day with a convincing win over Portsmouth. 3 goals in the first half (Wall, Dowling and O'Rourke) saw the team get off to the best possible start on the day. Some excellent combination play between UL's strike partners Dowling and O'Rourke supported by hard working midfielders Wall and Saunders proved too much for the Portsmouth defence.
Arsenal 0-1 ULSAFC
Arsenal proved tough opposition for Limerick's amputees. The sides last meeting ended in a 1-1 draw and UL were looking to improve on their last performance against the Londoners. Dowling got the all important goal in the first half. An inspired performance by the Arsenal goalkeeper meant that despite their best efforts UL couldn't add to their tally. Dowling's strike proved sufficient, however, and UL secure their second 3 points of the day.
ULSAFC 1-0 Peterborough
UL began their last fixture of the day 3 points behind opponents Peterborough and 2 behind Everton, who had lost their last game of the season to Arsenal 0-1. Limerick needed all 3 points to leapfrog Everton and join Peterborough at the top of the table on 30 points. Five minutes in O'Rourke got the crucial goal, heading in from Wall's cross, to stun the reigning champions. UL defended resolutely and Conroy in the Limerick goal kept his third clean sheet of the day. They pushed for a second goal but the leaders stood firm. Despite taking all 3 points and finishing level with Peterborough, UL were unable to match the Posh's goal difference, a tally they had amassed over the course of the season.
An excellent showing from the Irish side in their debut season. The IAFA are incredibly proud of manager Simon Baker and the lads who put in a huge effort during the season travelling to England on 5 occasions. Next up for ULSAFC is the EAFA League Cup in June. Simon and the boys will be looking to get one over on Peterborough and signal their intent to challenge for the league title next season.
ULSAFC Player Stats - EAFA Premier League 2015/16
ULSAFC were left with mixed emotions following this season's second round of Central Venue fixtures in Watford on Saturday. A win, a draw and a loss, saw the team drop from second to third in the league standings with work to do if they're to challenge for the title with just 5 games to go. 4 points off top spot, 2 off second, UL will face each of their English opponents once more before the end of the season and with home fixtures next month the squad are confident that their goal is still within reach.
ULSAFC kicked off this round against reigning league champions Peterborough. The first half was a tight affair. UL held firm at the back but it was the Posh that were creating more chances. The second half was one to forget for the Limerick side. Houghton, the league's top goal scorer, finished passed UL debutant Justin Gary to give Peterborough the lead. A second goal quickly followed, as did a third from a free kick on the edge of the box. Houghton went on the score a hat-trick as the Posh put 6 past UL. Kevan O'Rourke scored a consolation goal from a Craig Dowling corner in what was ultimately a disappointing performance from the team.
In their second game of the afternoon UL were left frustrated by Arsenal despite upping their performance after their earlier defeat. Early in the first half Arsenal took the lead scoring directly from a free kick on the edge of the box. UL kicked on, however, and began to move the ball better and create chances. Behind at half time the Limerick squad were not prepared to lie down. Arsenal's keeper was forced into a succession of saves. UL eventually got the equaliser they deserved as Craig Dowling converted from the penalty spot. But the Arsenal shot stopper prevent UL from taking all 3 points. The squad were left frustrated by Arsenal's resilience particularly given that they had already dropped points in their first game.
Simon Baker's side pulled themselves together for the final game of the day. They faced an under strength, luckless Portsmouth side and had no option but to take all 3 points. UL proved to strong for Pompey and scored an impressive 8 goals. A determined team performance, each an every player made a fine contribution with youngster Neil Hoey popping up to score his first goal of the competition much to the delight of his teammates.
Peterborough took all 9 points from their fixtures and climbed to top spot. Everton recorded 2 wins to stay in second. UL dropped a place but remain in touching distance 4 points off the top. Maximum points from their remaining 5 games could yet be enough. Next month ULSAFC make history as they host their first round of EAFA fixtures. Everton and Man City travel to Limerick for a set of games that could prove decisive as the league draws closer to a finish. This league has proven highly competitive and entertaining from day one, no doubt the Irish leg of the competition will be thrilling too.
UL Sport Amputee Football Club took all 6 points in Lancashire on Saturday to move to second place in the EAFA Premier League. Wins over Manchester City FC and Everton FC saw ULSFC make up for a disappointing set of results in Manchester in Janurary. The team lost both their games after the Christmas break and fell to fourth in the table but two very solid performances yesterday put UL right back in contention for the title.
UL took on Man City in their first game and ran out 2-1 victors. In the early fixture City had beaten Everton comfortably 3-0. UL started with a high intensity and got a deserved reward for their efforts halfway through the first half as Dave Saunders tucked the ball home from a Craig Dowling corner. City hit back before the break, however, as Mickey Chambers struck a deflected shot past UL keeper James Conroy. There were chances for both teams to win in the second half but it was UL's striker Craig Dowling who clinched the winner. Alan Wall struck a fine ball to Dowling who, with his back to goal, flicked the ball first time over the shoulders of both the last defender and goalkeeper who rushed to close him down.
UL beat Everton in their second fixture by the narrowest of margins, 1-0. Everton had run UL ragged in Manchester in Janurary beating them 4-1 but this time out the Limerick side were determined to defend to a much higher standard. They did so and forced Everton onto the back foot, creating a number of chances, and eventually winning the game at the death. Kevin 'Butch' Cahillane struck calmly into the back of the Everton net, 2 minutes from time, when a lose ball fell to him with the Toffee's keeper struggling to get back into position. In truth there was very little between the sides on the day but UL just did enough to secure the 3 points in a tightly contested game.
Nearing the halfway point in the league, Everton lead UL on goal difference with City sitting 3 points behind in 3rd. With the southern region to play next weekend Peterborough have an opportunity to go top if they can take 6 points from their fixtures against Arsenal and Portsmouth. The EAFA Premier League is proving to be a cracking contest and there is no doubt there will be numerous twist and turns at the top between now and June.
The Irish Amputee Football Association held their Inaugural FootGolf Classic on Saturday 19 September at Footgolf Dublin. The event was a roaring success as teams of 4, young and old, from across the country competed for an array of top prizes. Players enjoyed a round of golf, a meal, the Ireland - Canada rugby match, a prize giving ceremony, raffle and charity auction. Johnstown FC, Meath, won the event with an incredible overall score of 233. One of their team members even equalled the course record held by James McClean and Jamie Carragher. They were the only team to score better than the IAFA foursome, 258. FC Bellew and Martin McQuillan's team, both Dundalk, took second and third places respectively. The IAFA would like to extend their sincerest thanks to all those who took part on the day, to the numerous companies who sponsored the event, to FootGolf Dublin and The Whitehouse pub, and to everyone who gave so generously on the day. Approximately €7,000 was raised on the day, all of which will go towards the further development of Amputee Football in Ireland, giving any person who has lost a limb or suffers from a limb affecting disorder the opportunity to play football at both grassroots and International levels.