Irish manager Stephen Kenny casts his eye over talent on Homeless Street League teams
FINALS for the Irish Homeless Street League All-Ireland championships, returned this week after a two-year Covid induced hiatus, to the Postal Sports & Social Club in Kiltipper.
A lively event, it featured up to 24 teams from Street Leagues throughout the country, male and female.
Among the attendees were Republic of Ireland football manager Stephen Kenny, who cast his eye over the talent on display, and happily chatted away to players and coaches on the sidelines during the day.
Also in attendance was PFA Ireland General Secretary Stephen McGuinness, South Dublin County Mayor Peter Kavanagh, and a raft of local politicians.
The finals are usually held as a form of trials, to pick Irish teams for the Homeless World cup in September.
Unfortunately, as New York was picked as the venue for this year’s tournament, it has been cancelled due to Covid and travel restrictions.
However, Irelands Big Issue editor and Clondalkin resident Sean Kavanagh – who established the Street League and Irish Homeless World Cup team in 2004, said there will still be an international tournament this year, albeit closer to home.
“We will be entering some international tournament this year, we need something to keep the players motivated, and at least it will be closer to home,” said Mr Kavanagh.
“They have a tournament in Holland. The intention is to send a men’s and women’s team.”
The Irish coach is Clondalkin native Thomas Morgan, a former Blackburn Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic midfielder.
Since Morgan took charge of the team a number of years ago, they have been consistently competitive, frequently finishing in the top 10, out of 40 plus teams, and even winning a plate trophy in 2018.
“It is not easy, there are only four trophies to win, and the standard is very high in every country,” said Kavanagh.
“You can see with the Africans, how the professional coaching is helping them. Some of the Eastern European teams have ex-professional footballers, who have fallen on tough times, the quality of teams just gets better.”
The Irish Street Leagues established a women’s league in Ballyfermot approximately six months ago.
At the finals in the Postal Club, the Ballyfermot ladies team won the ladies All-Ireland.
“The new women’s street league in Ballyfermot started this year, to get more women involved, and it is going really well, Thursday evenings behind the Gala,” said Sean.
Ireland had plans to bid for a Homeless World Cup, but just as the proposal started to make some headway, the pandemic stopped it dead in it’s tracks.
“We put in a bid for Ireland but Covid hit. While there was a commitment for funding, it couldn’t go any further,” said Kavanagh.
Pick up The Echo Newspaper (May 5th edition) for three pages of coverage and photographs from the Homeless Street League.