FOOTBALL | Dundalk Gardai set for European action in Mallorca
Team will wear Dundalk FC’s kit at international tournament
Dundalk FC will begin their latest European campaign in July but this weekend there will be a team from the town, wearing the club’s famous white shirts, in action on the continent.
The venue is Santa Ponsa in Mallorca where the Dundalk Gardai team will represent Ireland at the International Football Tournament, a competition which is open to police, fire brigade, military personnel, customs and other serving authorities from around the globe.
Garda Frank Noonan and the other members of the the squad were at CX+Sport headquarters on Tuesday afternoon where they received their specially designed Dundalk FC playing kit from Lilywhites general manager Martin Connolly as well as kit bags, polo shirts and zip tops from CX+Sport’s David Minto.
And, speaking to Dundalk Sport, Noonan said he was hoping the Gardai could replicate the Lilywhites’ European exploits from last year.
“We thought it would be brilliant going into Europe wearing the Dundalk FC jersey and it’d be great to get the results they had,” he smiled.
“People will see the jersey and maybe remember it from seeing Dundalk FC play in Europe last year. It’s just a way for us to give something back to them for what they’ve done for us because they’ve been brilliant over the years, especially for the use of the pitch at Oriel Park,” he said.
“CX+Sport have also been great to deal with,” he added. “They’ve sponsored bags, they’ve done up polo shirts and zip tops so we’re very grateful to them. We run with no money and only for people put some money towards the team it would be very difficult so it’s great to have places like Dundalk FC and CX+Sport on board.”
This is the first time that a team, made up solely of Dundalk officers, will take part in the finals. Dundalk Gardai booked their spot in the event after finishing second to Donegal in the qualifiers last October and both teams will fly the Irish flag in Spain.
Dundalk Gardai will compete in the men’s section where a total of 42 teams have been broken into six groups. They play on day two of the competition — Saturday — against opposition from Holland, Switzerland, Jordan, France, Spain and England.
Qualification from the group would see them play in the latter stages on Sunday but Noonan wasn’t looking too far ahead.
“There are a lot of strong teams in it,” he said, “especially from the likes of eastern Europe. It’s a Futsal competition and we will be using a size four ball which we wouldn’t be used to playing with here.
“When you go over there you’ll be playing against teams that use that ball three or four times a week so we could be up against it.”
As well as the opposition, Dundalk Gardai have another big obstacle to overcome — the summer Spanish sun!
“We’ll be okay as we’ve been acclimatising here over the last few days,” laughed Noonan.
“But no, the heat is something that will affect us over there. It wears you down. The games are 13 minutes, with no half-time, and there’s only a 25 minute break between games so we’ll need every member of the 10-man squad that’s going,” he said.
Qualifying for the finals is the latest honour for the local Garda team. The Louth division were crowned All Ireland champions in 2014 and Noonan feels there is a wealth of talented players in the area.
“We’ve an abundance of good players at the minute, which is great,” said Noonan. “A lot of young lads have come to Dundalk in the past 12–18 months and things like the football team and the GAA team, which is run by Darren Kirwan, are a great release from work.
“The tournament gives the players, especially the younger lads, a chance to enjoy themselves. It’s a very popular tournament and you get to meet people from different police forces around the world so we’re all looking forward to it.”