We’ve all heard of the likes of Packie Bonner, and more recently Shay Given, stealing the national spotlight with their heroics between the posts.
Now meet Longford’s very own up and coming star of tomorrow in the shape of Newtowncashel native, Eoin Casey.
The 33-year-old could hardly contain his delight earlier this week as he reflected on his two-day stint with the Irish Amputee Soccer Team as it took part in a recently held four nations championship in England.
Pitting his wits against international stars from Germany, Poland as well as the event’s host nation, Eoin played a starring role in his side’s 4-1 victory over European giants Germany. The other games didn’t go so well, with losses against both Poland and England.
Looking back on his involvement, Eoin said the experience was one which could not have been more insightful.
“It was very educational,” he admitted. “It was tough, I will say that, but I was so proud to have been a part of it all.”
Tasked with playing four fifty-minute games in the space of two days might ask a lot of even the most seasoned of athletes.
For Eoin, who lost his right arm at the age of seven, the tournament underlined the physical demands of a game which is just starting to take off domestically.
“We all know what we have to do now in terms of getting up to the right fitness levels if we want to compete at the top,” he said.
The most important aspect to come out of last month’s four-way competition, Eoin explained, was the success it had in raising awareness about Irish Amputee Football.
“That is the biggest thing. If we can get it out there, it might encourage more people to come forward and join in,” he added.
With a trip to another tournament, this time in Poland, later this year, organisers are also pinning their hopes on bringing a provisionally named Paddy Power Amputee Cup to Ireland.
It’s a prospect which clearly sits well with the amiable Celtic fan.
“I have to say, since I became involved, the whole experience has just been terrific. None of us see ourselves as disabled; we are amputees. There is none of this talk of ‘oh what the hell happened to you?’ It’s just about football and the determination to become fitter and better all round athletes,” he said.
Asked about whether the tournament had brought him on as a player, Eoin gave a slightly more humourous reply, adding: “I was happy enough, even though I did let in two own-goals. The game against Poland sticks out too. There was a debatable decision or two in that. In fact, you could nearly say the ref had a Polish shirt on at times.”
Exacting revenge come September time is a prospect that clearly remains very much on the mind of the cordial Longford man’s agenda.
For more details on how you can get involved, log onto www.irishamputeefootballassociation.com or contact Eoin Casey directly at 086-3028394.