Former Louth GAA star Barry Hamilton on Croatian bench for Brazil clash
And you thought there was no Irish involvement in this year's World Cup... a former Louth GAA star will feature on the Croatian bench for this evening's World Cup opener against Brazil in Sao Paulo.
Barry Hamilton, a member of Louth's under-21 side in 2012, is with the Croatian management because a Dundalk business called STATSports, set up by Sean O'Connor and Alan Clarke in 2008, has given him a key role in Croatia's success.
"I suppose it was a case of being in the right place at the right time," Hamilton told The Dundalk Democrat. "The Croats were looking to get a demonstration of our STATSports Viper tracking system before the World Cup so Sean and Alan decided that I should go to their ten-day training base in Zagreb and Austria. I flew out on May 20th.
"The players and the manager, Niko Kovac, really liked the system and I got on well with everybody but I was due to come home on June 1. I never expected to be going to the World Cup at all.
"The players held a meeting and the captain, Darijo Srna, stood up and told me to give him my passport as I was going to Brazil with the squad.
"The players liked the system and the technology so much that they were adamant they wanted to bring it to the World Cup. The next morning I was on a plane to Lisbon with the team, heading for the tournament.
"There are not too many people in my position, working a dream job that has taken them to the World Cup. I'm really looking forward to it and I really appreciate where I am.
"It will be an experience I'm sure I'll never forget and hopefully some of the people back home will be cheering Croatia on. Nobody expects anything other than a Brazil win but the lads are confident they can cause an upset."