by Tom Clancy
Ireland’s representatives at the Neymar Jr Fives in Brazil “WhoYaPlayin’?” missed out on a place in the knockout phase of the competition on goal difference. The team was mainly comprised of Limerick men, with Galway (2) and Sligo also represented
WhoYaPlayin’? won a regional event held at the University of Limerick in April before gaining national honours in Belfast. Having arrived in Sao Paulo earlier this week, the side were drawn into Group G on Thursday.
The rules differed from an ordinary five-a-side, as scoring a goal sees the opposition lose a player. Scoring five goals secures the victory immediately, while the clock lasts for just 10 minutes. The pitch measures 30m in length, with 18m in width, with a small goal which has no goalkeeper. The competition saw 53 teams from around the world descend on the Brazilian City.
The team was comprised of players from various parts of Limerick and finished fourth in group G but with the top four ranking fourth placed teams advancing, Ireland narrowly missed out. Having suffered a 2-0 defeat to Italy, Gavin Dillon, from Abbeyfeale, had given his side the lead before Portugal ran out 5-1 winners.
Goals from Galway man Sean Keogh, captain Niall Smith and Dillon gave them their first points against Hong Kong. Basement side Australia were then dispatched 5-1 as Keogh, Dillon (2) and a brace from Kildimo native Paudie Walsh give the squad hope.
Group G winners Bosnia proved too strong as they beat the Irish 2-0. This left an anxious wait, to see if six points was enough. Group D side Azerbaijan were deemed to have done enough for the 32nd place and advanced with goal difference of +1, with captain Smith and his teammates finishing with a goal difference of -2.
Meanwhile Northern Ireland were also eliminated during Friday’s group stage, as Romania were eventually crowned winners on Saturday afternoon. England Lions losing 1-0 in the decider, which was streamed online by sponsors, Red Bull. Romania and England couldn’t be separated after ten minutes of action, and, in a dramatic finish, the Romanians struck the golden goal in the 1v1 format to lift the trophy.
WhoYaPlayin’? Squad: Niall Smith (capt), David Lynch, Lorcan Feeney, Paudie Walsh, Eoin Roche, Gavin Dillon and Sean Keogh.