The draw for the first ever EAFF European Championships took place this afternoon in Riva, Turkey. Europe's first ever major Amputee Football tournament will take place in Turkey from the 1st to the 10th of October this year. 12 teams from across the continent will compete for Europe's biggest prize. The tournament represents the culmination of the incredible work that has been done across Europe in developing the sport of Amputee Football since the establishment of the EAFF in 2015. With the support of UEFA, in the space of two years, the EAFF has helped European Amputee football reach unimaginable heights. Thanks to the EAFF more and more nations are taking up the sport in Europe and in October 4 of the 12 teams competing at the European Championships will be appearing in a major international tournament for the first time. The tournament also promises to be of an incredibly high standard. 3 of the top 4 nations in World Amputee Football were named 1st seeds for the draw (Russia #1, Turkey #3 and Poland #4).
Earlier today Ireland were drawn in Group C alongside World Champions Russia, neighbours England and emerging Greece. Ireland have never faced Russia or Greece in an International fixture while they have played England on numerous occasions, most recently at the Amp Futbol Cup in Warsaw in June. The squad will acknowledge that they've have been drawn in the toughest of the 3 groups but will remain confident of achieving the aims they have set out for the tournament. The squad have been training regularly this summer and will attend several more training camps before October to ensure that they are fully prepared for the challenge that lies ahead.
The tournament kicks off on the 2nd of October as hosts Turkey play Germany in the opening fixture. Ireland's group fixtures are as follows:
3rd October 17.00 (15.00 Irish time) v. Russia
4th October 16.30 (14.30 Irish time) v. England
5th October 12.00 (10.00 Irish time) v. Greece
The IAFA International management team of Nick Harrison and Declan Considine announced the Irish squad that will compete at the first ever Amputee Football European Championships in Turkey earlier today. Those selected have been training tirelessly throughout the year, meeting monthly at the University of Limerick and doing their utmost to earn their places on the flight to Turkey at the end of this month. Check out our video for a taste of what happens when the IAFA International squad get together and see the squad that will represent Ireland at the European Championships revealed.
International Squad, European Championships 2017:
International Managers: Nick Harrison, Declan Considine
Goalkeepers: James Conroy, Justin Guiney, Patrick Hutton
Defenders: David Saunders, Kevin Cahillane, Simon Baker
Midfielders: Garry Hoey, Alan Wall, Kevan O'Rourke, Éanna Durham
Strikers: James Boyle, Neil Hoey, Christy McElligott
Huge thanks to mshotstudio.pl for the fantastic video.
Both the IAFA Seniors and Juniors will be in action this Summer in Warsaw, Poland. First up the Senior International Squad will compete at the Amp Futbol Cup on the 24th and 25th of June. The Amp Futbol Cup has been the most prestigious and competitive Amputee Football tournament in Europe since its inception in 2012. In this, the sixth edition of the competition, Ireland will face England and France in the group stage and should they advance, will compete against Poland, Japan and Greece for the coveted trophy. The squad have been training tirelessly since January to prepare for the tournament and are eagerly looking forward to testing themselves against some of the world's elite teams in advance of the European Championships this October. The tournament will be live streamed and links to the stream will be available through the IAFA's social media channels on June 24th and 25th.
6 Juniors will represent Ireland at the second EAFF Junior Amputee Football Training Camp from the 6-9 of July. Following on from the enormous success that last year's camp in Dublin was, Poland will host Junior Amputee Footballers from across the continent for a weekend of football and fun. Our six Juniors were chosen for the dedication and commitment they have shown over the past year. Each player cannot wait to train alongside their European peers as they continue to develop in the hope that someday they will play in the senior squad. We would like to wish our Juniors the very best of luck for their exciting trip and hope they thoroughly enjoy the experience. No doubt they will all be donning the Green jersey in no time at all.
The Irish Senior International squad took time out from their pre-match training to help promote the EAFF's European Amputee Football Weeks which kicked off on Thursday June 1st. The initiative, supported by UEFA, will see Amputee Football events take place across Europe to promote the game and encourage the further development of the sport across the continent. Having flown back from New Jersey following their game against Mexico, preparing to meet visitors Uruguay at the Aviva on Sunday evening, the Irish squad were on hand to support the IAFA's involvement in the EAFA's initiative. The IAFA featured at the Champions League festival in Cardiff on Thursday, will send 6 Junior Amputee's to take part in the EAFF Junior Development Camp in Warsaw and will compete in the Amp Futbol Cup, also in Warsaw later this month, all as part of the Amputee Football Weeks. The association and the squad would like to thank Martin, Roy and all the Irish squad for their support.
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)