HEAD COACH Greg Yelverton will be banking on a strong Leeside presence to help boost Ireland’s chances of finally getting among the medals at the World University Games in Italy next month.
The Irish have yet to claim a medal of any colour after many attempts in the men’s football competition at these bi annual games and Yelverton has included eight players from University College Cork (UCC) in his squad to take part in the 12 team men’s football tournament in Naples from July 2–14.
By JOHN HUDSON
The Cork native a football facilitator at UCC and a UEFA Pro Licence holder has also sprung something of a surprise by selecting John Kavanagh and Shane Daly Butz in the squad as neither of these players have figured in Colleges and Universities competitions this season.
Kavanagh the Cork City defender has been on loan at Finn Harps since the beginning of the season while continuing his studies in UCC.
While Daly Butz was recently released by Cork City having joined them less than 12 months ago after graduating from the Cork university last summer and Yelverton has availed of the one year out eligibility rule to include the former Republic of Ireland amateur international in the Naples squad.
It is expected that two more players will shortly be added to bring the squad up to 20 with assessments on injuries set to determine the final makeup.
Speaking ahead of his second tournament in charge of the Men’s team, Yelverton said “The World University Games presents a unique challenge for all those participating to compete against their academic peers across the globe. Representing your country is the biggest honour you can achieve.”
Added Yelverton: “My staff and I have constantly emphasised this message to the players in our preparations. It’s an incredible challenge, both mentally and physically, for Third Level players to compete against countries across the world and the experience they will get from the tournament will have influence on their developing careers as footballers.”
The squad will complete their preparations for the tournament with a training camp in the University of Limerick before departing for Italy on Saturday June 29.
Yelverton takes charge of the side for the second time at these World University Games having been in a similar role at the Taipei tournament two years ago where Ireland finished 13th from 16 nations.
Alan O’Sullivan, Anthony McAlavey and Daly Butz were part of that Irish squad in 2017 and they are again included.
For IT Carlow striker Alan O’Sullivan who netted five goals in Taipei narrowly missing out on claiming the top goalscorer honours by a single goal to Russia’s Ivan Sergeyev, currently with FC Torpedo Moscow, Naples will be the third time he has represented his country at these prestigious games for students.
Ireland’s opening group fixture is against South Korea on July 5 and they will play Uruguay two days later with the top two sides in the three team group advancing to the quarter final stage.
Goalkeepers: David Coffey (UCC/UCC AFC), Gavin Sheridan (UCD/UCD AFC).
Defenders: Joe Manley (TU Dublin/Longford Town),
Rob Slevin (UCC/UCC AFC), Ronan Young (Queens University Belfast/Queens University AFC), Gordon Walker (UCC/UCC AFC), John Kavanagh (UCC/Cork City-on loan to Finn Harps), Maurice Nugent (NUI Galway/Galway United).
Midfielders: David Hurley (UCC/Cobh Ramblers), Dean Kelly (IT Carlow/New Oak Boys AFC), Pierce Phillips (UCC/Cork City), Sean McSweeney (University of Limerick/Limerick FC), Cillian Duffy (Maynooth University/Maynooth University Town AFC), Shane Daly-Butz (UCC/Unattached), Anthony McAlavey (IT Carlow/Cobh Ramblers), Micky Scott (TU Dublin/Killester-Donnycarney AFC).
Forwards: Simon Falvey (UCC/UCC AFC), Alan O’Sullivan (IT Carlow/Warrenpoint Town).
Staff: Greg Yelverton (Head Coach), Luke Hardy (Assistant Coach), David Bourke (Goalkeeper Coach), Paul Walsh (Equipment Officer), Johnny Loughrey (Physiotherapist).
Friday July 5 – Ireland v Republic of Korea, Stadio San Mauro, 9PM (8PM Irish Time).
Sunday July 7 – Ireland v Uruguay, Stadio Pinto, 6PM (5PM Irish Time).