Local man Garry Hoey will board the plane to Poland this Friday ahead of the amputee European Championships which takes place between the 12th and 19th of September. Garry is a defender with the Irish Amputee side and currently plays in the national amputee football league with Bohemians who are the reigning league champions.
The Point Road man has been playing amputee football since 2012 when he joined the Irish Amputee Football Association. He made his international debut against Great Britain in Limerick the following year and has since travelled all over the world playing with the national team, competing at two World Cups and a European Championships.
Back in 2009 while at work a car display ramp slipped and fell over, crushing Garry’s foot resulting in him being rushed to hospital where he remained for a month before a decision was made to have his right leg amputated from just below the knee joint.
Since his international debut in 2013 Garry has become one of the most impressive players in the country and he was amongst a select few chosen to represent the University of Limerick in the English Amputee Football Association League (EAFA).
Garry and his teammates will be hoping to qualify from a tough looking group C which include Russia, Belgium and Germany. Ireland will play Belgium in their first match of the tournament on Monday morning at 9am Irish time before taking on Germany on Tuesday (midday Irish time) and Russia on Wednesday (1:30pm Irish time). According to Garry confidence is high amongst the camp that they can improve on their sixth place finish at the last European Championships and he admits there is some added pressure on the squad this time around given only the top six will qualify for the World Cup next year in Turkey.
“I feel we are a much better team than the one which I first started with seven or eight years ago. Everything is quicker and more intense and we have a lot of very talented players in the squad,” stated Garry.
“I’m probably one of the more experienced players in the squad now and I have seen the improvements first hand. I think the national amputee football league has definitely seen standards improve and we have all raised our level.
“We finished sixth in the last Euros and we want to better that and we are quietly confident that we will qualify from our group. There is added pressure as only the top six in the tournament will qualify for the world cup next year but we are looking forward to that challenge. It won’t be easy but I feel we’re strong enough to get out of the group probably alongside Russia who are one of the favourites for the tournament. Then it’s into the knockout stages and after that anything can happen,” he added.
All fixtures will be streamed live on the EAFF Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EuroAMP