Defence Forces all set for next test
In December 2018, Richie Barber's squad travelled to the Netherlands confident of performing well in the qualifiers for the CISM Military World Games. What followed was a 4-0 win over Lithuania and a draw with France to send them through.
There was elation on the pitch afterwards as the players & staff had put so much effort into achieving the qualification. However, they now know that the hard work begins again as they set their targets on the World Games, which will be staged in China in October.
The first step on that journey is getting back into match practice, so a game against their UK counterparts has been set for May 8 in Richmond Park and Barber hopes that his players make the most of the opportunity.
"It is a fixture we look forward to every year and is key in our squad preparation for Military European & World Championships," said Barber, who has been able to select a strong squad of players.
"Despite being officially a friendly, the 90 minutes on the pitch are fiercely competitive. We are proud to say we currently have won two of the three closely-fought encounters. We have brought in the Perpetual Friendship Trophy for this year’s event, which will be held by the winning team until the fixture is next played, to add to the competitive nature of the game.
"With the CISM World Games in China fast approaching, this game is extremely important to assess where we are as a team against top international opposition. We have lost 50 per cent of the squad who played in Holland to Overseas Service, injuries and departing the Military but that is the nature of Military Life and we must work around that as a team.
"Every Player we lose is an opportunity for a young player to break into the team and we have new players coming into the squad for this game such as Gavin Dillon from Limerick, who played at U15/16 International Level. We are also lucky to have the support of DF Soccer President Brigadier General Peter O’Halloran to the team, he has allowed us to develop the professionalism of the set-up through his endless support for the team.
"As a manager of a military team I am very lucky. The staff and players alike have built commitment, desire, discipline and work rate. The pride they have serving their country is amplified every time they get the honour of wearing the Irish jersey on the pitch. I take great pride in seeing this before every game. A game against the UK is a game every player wants to play in, wearing the green jersey.
"I would like to thank St. Patrick's Athletic for their support to this game, we are very grateful to Anthony Delaney and the rest of the St. Pat's team."
Defence Forces Squad
Goalkeepers: Ken Deegan, Gavin Mulreaney, Stephen Whelan, Shane Sherlock
Defenders: Sean Guerin, Lee Delaney, David Long, Shane O'Doherty, Craig Doran, Dean Tilley, Matty Byrne, Darren McLarkey, Scott Delaney
Midfielders: Ray McCann, Glenn Fullam, Gavin Dillon, Shane Dempsey, Chris Kenny, Dave O'Riordan, Aidan Friel, Ross McCarthy, Ben O'Donoghue, Michael O'Shea, Adrian Rafferty
Forwards: Tony Smith, Paul Sheehan, Jody Dillon, Stephen Fisher, Lee Scanlon, Mick Mulhall, Derek Walsh, Trevor Gethins