Kerry am­putees to don green jersey

The Kerryman (Tralee Edition) - - NEWS - By TADHG EVANS

A TRIO of Kerry am­putee foot­ballers are set to rep­re­sent their coun­try in Is­tan­bul next month, as David Saun­ders, Kevin Cahillane and Éanna Durham are all booked up for the Euro­pean Am­putee Foot­ball Cham­pi­onships of 2017 - much to their ex­cite­ment.

Kevin (Killorglin) and David (Rath­more) are both ex­pe­ri­enced com­peti­tors with over 50 in­ter­na­tional caps be­tween them, in­clud­ing ap­pear­ances at the 2014 World Cup in Mex­ico.

For New­cas­tle-upon-Tyne-based Éanna, how­ever, this is new ter­ri­tory for a man who only took up the game late last year.

“All three of us are above-the-kneww am­putees,” the 30-year-old pros­thetist from Ri­asc said. “I was born with a con­gen­i­tal limb de­fi­ciency and I un­der­went an am­pu­ta­tion at the age of four, but that never stopped me play­ing sport.

“I was a goal­keeper and cap­tain for An Ghaeltacht un­til my mid-teens, and I also played as a flanker for Rug­baí Chorca Dhuib­hne – I al­ways strong, so I was well able for that role.

“Last Oc­to­ber, I got in­volved with am­putee foot­ball for the Partick This­tle Club, and I earned my first few caps for Ire­land at a tour­na­ment in Poland last May.

“It’s a seven-a-side sport, and I’m just look­ing for­ward to get­ting out there. I’m the only UK-based player on the team and I travel over to Ire­land once a month to train, but it’s cer­tainly worth it. It’s a great sport.”

David (35) teaches in Dou­glas, Cork, while Kevin (38) works in Lit­tle Is­land. Kevin told The Ker­ry­man that both men played in the last World Cup in Mex­ico, but had the mis­for­tune of be­ing drawn in a dif­fi­cult group. This time around, it’s the same story.

“Last time we got a night­mare group,” Kevin ex­plained. “We played Uzbek­istan, who were the World Cham­pi­ons at the time, and then we played Brazil – and Brazil are still Brazil re­gard­less of what type of foot­ball you’re play­ing!

“We gave a highly-rated Ukrainian team a good game, but it was al­ways go­ing to be a very dif­fi­cult task. This time we’re in a group with World Cup win­ners Rus­sia, Amp Cup cham­pi­ons Eng­land, and a Greek team that’s fairly new to the scene.

“As Éanna said, it will be a tough task to get out of that group, but we are con­fi­dent that we can do it.”

Kevin de­scribes the am­pu­ta­tion he un­der­went in 2008 as an event that “gave me a new lease of life”, and foot­ball has been a big part of that new start.

“I was di­ag­nosed with can­cer in 2000, and that ul­ti­mately led to the am­pu­ta­tion in 2008,” he said. “I re­mem­ber that Kerry lost the All-Ire­land Fi­nal to Tyrone around the same time, and that wasn’t a good month for me,” he jokes.

“But it ac­tu­ally gave me a new lease of life once I’d taken that de­ci­sion. I took up foot­ball in 2014 and I also play a bit of golf too. I have gone from strength to strength over the last few years.”

The 12-team Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship runs from Oc­to­ber 1 to 10, and The Ker­ry­man wishes the Kerry trio and the Ir­ish team the very best.

ABOVE: Am­putee foot­ballers Kevin Cahillane, David Saun­ders and Éanna Durham. IN­SET: Éanna in ac­tion for Ire­land.

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