IT’S ‘ALL SYSTEMS GO’ for the Irish Amateur team after they finished their UEFA Regions Cup final preparations with a victory over Northern Ireland last Saturday at the AUL Complex.
Goals from Killester United’s David Lacey and Adam Foley of Glebe North ensured the Irish headed to Portugal with confidence fully intact, much to the delight of manager, Gerry Smith. “We needed to be going away with the win. Everyone got on the pitch and we have no injuries and, of course, a clean sheet as well.” Smith was impressed with the couple of goals that his side managed to net; in particular Foley’s second-half strike that all but tied up the win. “It was a great finish and a great ball through by Barry Kavanagh.”
The Irish boss has had to make some hard calls in recent weeks as he narrowed the squad down to the 20 players that will be making the trip to Portugal, but reckons that “this is where the headaches begin” as he looks to shape his starting line up for the opening game against Turkey tomorrow week.
That first game will be played in the late afternoon in Barcelos, a fact that pleases Smith as the Irish are spared the midday summer heat. “Nobody likes playing in that heat, but we will deal with it. We will have a couple of training sessions when we arrive and see how fellas are after that.” The Irish will face Belgrade, the Serbian representatives, in the second game two days later in Fao, with a 7.30pm kick off time, while in the final game on Sunday 26th June, Smith’s side return to Barcelos for a clash with South Region, Russia’s representatives. In order for the Irish to progress to the final, to be played on Tuesday 28th of June, they will need to top the group.