Thursday 22 March 2018

Paul hopes to see Ireland shine at amputee football tournament

PAUL GALE'S world could have fallen apart little over a year ago when he lost his foot to a cancerous tumour.

Instead, the 24-year-old Donabate man is gearing up to make history as the first Irish team to take part in the Four Nations Amputee Football Tournament in the UK at the end of the month. Ironically, the tumour in his left foot was only discovered when it began to hurt when he played football with his regular team. 'It became really swollen when I'd play and they couldn't figure out what was wrong, until the hospital discovered it was a cancerous tumour.' Paul started chemotherapy in September 2010 and had his left foot removed in January of last year. 'I have a prosthetic limb, and I'm getting on grand with it, plus I have the good footballing left,' he said with a smile. 'I play mid-field, the same position as I did before, and we have been doing lots of training and getting lots of press, so we're all really looking forward to taking part.' The Irish Amputee Football Association was only formed in April 2011 – Paul has been playing with them since day one – and they have gone from strength to strength ever since, securing sponsorship recently from Paddy Power Bookmakers. The squad will depart from Dublin on March 30 and, over the following two days, will play against Poland, Germany and Great Britain in a four nations championship. 'This is an amazing milestone for the club, and the lads and one lassie have put a huge amount of work and training into getting this far,' said Simon Baker, Development Officer with the Irish Amputee Football Association. 'It's early days for us, but with the new sponsors and kit, we look like a team, and play like a team, so we are half-way there.' The team train in various locations twice a month. The matches are very strenuous and so are slightly shorter than other matches. 'They are two 20-minutes bouts, and we play on a half size pitch, as it is very strenuous on the upper arms using the crutches,' said Paul, who looks after his two-yearold daughter Julia with partner Veronica Smart. 'I'm looking forward to taking part in the matches at the end of the month, and who knows, it could be next stop the World Cup in Russia for Ireland at last!'