Double for street leagues
Members of the Homeless Street team

Double for street leagues

A STUNNING double was won by the Republic of Ireland male and female street league teams over the weekend.

Covid travel restrictions caused the cancellation of the annual Homeless World Cup in New York this year, but Irish teams were eager to be involved in a tournament, and got their wish with an invitation to the 8 Nation Championship in Scotland.

Unfortunately, the opening on Thursday coincided with the death of Queen Elizabeth, and the cancellation of major outdoor sporting events, forced organisers to move to an indoor arena in Dundee.

However, this did not deter the Irish teams – both of whom beat Northern Ireland in their respective finals.

Clondalkin resident Sean Kavanagh, Ireland’s Big Issue editor, who established the Street League and Irish Homeless World Cup team in 2004, was still coming to terms with the achievement on Tuesday.

“I know how hard it was for everyone involved getting the logistics in place, funding it, the training organised. It’s a phenomenal effort and one matched by the players who truly know what it means to represent your country,” said Kavanagh.

“Sport can give you that confidence to go beyond sitting on the sidelines watching life pass you by, as our logo says ‘a ball can change a life ‘and I truly believe that.”

Teams from Afghanistan, England, Holland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Sweden and Ukraine took part.

Ireland’s men hit the ground running in their first group game, beating Northern Ireland 9-2, Sweden, England, a semi-final tonking versus Afghanistan 9-1, and a rematch with the north in the final.

The Irish women won all their games en route to the final, whereby they despatched their northern counterparts 12-1.

It was the men’s turn to try and complete the double, but losing 2-4, and then 4-5 with just minutes to go, it was not looking good, until two late goals won the day.

For Clondalkin goalkeeper Joe Laird Clondalkin (37) it was very emotional.

“Being picked to represent my country and fly the flag . . . I’m incredibly proud of that because I’ve never achieved anything in life.”

The Irish men’s team also featured 18-year-old Lee Fullam from the Street League in Killinarden.