Sunday 19 November 2017

Dubliner Neil (15) goes from losing a leg at 11 to Irish amputee football star

Neil Hoey (15)
Pic: Fergal Phillips.
Neil Hoey (15) Pic: Fergal Phillips.
Neil Hoey (15) Pic: Fergal Phillips.
Neil Hoey (15) Pic: Fergal Phillips.
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

DUBLINER Neil Hoey was just 11 when he lost his leg, but that hasn't stopped him from taking to the football field.

Neil (15) has been playing for the youth academy of the Irish Amputee football team for four years and he will soon progress to senior level.

Neil Hoey (15) and his mum Aideen. Pic: Fergal Philips
Neil Hoey (15) and his mum Aideen. Pic: Fergal Philips

Now the team are calling for more players to join up.

The Beaumont native lost his leg to a cancer called osteosarcoma, just four months after his diagnosis.

"We were told it was limb or life," his mum Aideen recalled.

The mum-of-four described the time as "an absolute minefield".

Neil Hoey (15)
Pic: Fergal Phillips.
Neil Hoey (15) Pic: Fergal Phillips.

"It is a really traumatic event when it is happening," she told the Herald.

"There is no accounting for what's going to happen tomorrow. You are living your life in a total bubble."

Her son began losing his hair on Christmas night due to the chemotherapy, his mum recalled.

Without amputation he was facing surgery every year and the possibility that he wouldn't beat the disease.

Neil Hoey (15)
Pic: Fergal Phillips.
Neil Hoey (15) Pic: Fergal Phillips.

Neil decided to opt for amputation and he went on to have his left leg amputated above the knee.

His mum says the brave lad wasn't fazed by the prospect, but did have a lot of questions.

"He was asking things like 'can I get back on a bike?'," she explained.

Four years on, he now cycles to school every day.

"He could climb a mountain if he wanted to," his proud mother added.

He is also an accomplished football player and will hopefully soon travel with the senior side to play in amputee soccer clashes abroad.

The players remove their prosthetic limbs and use crutches to play the game which requires substantial upper body strength.

Mandy King, head coach at the youth academy, is keen to recruit more players - both boys and girls - to the team.

"I lost my leg nine years ago and before I joined the team my confidence was really low. The football has really changed me," she revealed. "I know from experience that playing will really bring their confidence on."

The team train in Blanchardstown once every two weeks and current players are aged between 6 and 15 years of age.

More details on the team can be found at www.irishamputeefootballassociation.com

hnews@herald.ie

Herald

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