The IAFA International squad are today recovering after a tough weekend of International friendlies hosted at Lancashire Football Association's County Ground, Leyland England, on Saturday and Sunday. The IAFA squad competed in two matches over the weekend against the Great British Amputee Football Association's World Cup squad and development squad.
On Saturday the IAFA played the squad GB will send to the Amputee Football World Cup in Mexico in November. Ireland conceded once in each half and lost the game 2-0 but frustrated the Brits, one of Europe's elite teams, and limited them to few clear-cut opportunities. Ireland struggled, however, to get their own attacking game going. Ireland lined out with two strikers and succeeded in disrupting GB's gameplan in the early stages. Dave Tweed, however, capitalised on a defensive error to put GB into the lead midway through the first half. A second from Mickey Chambers in the second half, as he reacted quickest to a cross into the Irish penalty area, secured the win for GB. Although disappointed with the result, ruing missed opportunities, the IAFA squad were left satisfied with a decent performance against a very strong GB outfit. Furthermore, debutants James Conroy and Kevin Cahillane performed very well in their first outings in the Irish shirt.
On Sunday the squad faced GB's Development squad in yet another tough test. Team GB started well and were the first to score with Lee Dobson curling a fine strike into the top corner of James Conroy's net. Ireland reacted well and pushed forward but failed to trouble GB's keeper as their attacks broke down in the final third. In the second half the IAFA pressed further up the pitch in search of an equaliser. James Boyle hit the post and Kevan O'Rourke saw a header from a Donal Bligh corner drift narrowly over the crossbar. From the resulting goalkick, however, James Boyle forced a GB defender into a hurried clearance and Kevan O'Rourke pounced to stab the ball between the onrushing keepers legs to equalise for Ireland. Ireland continued to attack looking for a winner but GB held out for the draw. Final score 1-1.
Two decent performances and two games in which the IAFA squad will feel they could have done better but one huge step towards closing the gap between themselves and Great Britain. The IAFA fielded 3 debutants over the weekend, Ted Smithers, James Conroy and Kevin Cahillane and all 13 members of the squad that travelled played over the weekend. Attention now turns to the next training camp and further training games in anticipation of the Amputee World Cup in November. The IAFA would like to sincerely thank the Great British Amputee Football Association and Lancashire Football Association for their hospitality over the weekend. The squad were extremely well looked after on what was a great weekend for European Amputee Football.