Kerry amputees to don green jersey
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.