Courtesy of FAI
Made up of players from Connacht-Munster, the Irish outfit – named Region 2 under UEFA guidelines – are aiming to seal glory against Zagreb and ensure that the trophy returns to Ireland next week.
In the last finals tournament – which was held in Dublin – the Irish side (then known as Eastern Region) triumphed, so this is an opportunity to cement their status as the best European nation in amateur football.
Head Coach Gerry Davis feels that his squad have coped well with the demands of high intensity games and blistering heat to make it to the final. Now, they just have to complete the mission.
“When we set out on this journey, away to Italy in the qualifiers, nobody gave us a chance. But we came through those games, then topped our group at the finals, and now we have a massive game against Zagreb,” said Davis.
“We have done a lot of work on recovery and hydration to deal with the heat, while we have been able to access the excellent facilities at the Turkish Football Federation. So we have 20 fit players available and ready for action.
“It was a fantastic achievement just to reach these finals, but to go on and win it would be unbelievable. The players have really bought into what we set out to do and it is a credit to them for that. They believed in our plan and we now have one massive game left to play.”
There are four players involved in this squad who tasted glory in 2015, while their opponents Zagreb – who were also their opponents two years ago in the final – have six players still within their group.
Experience can count for a lot, but desire can trump that and it is a weapon that Davis’s team have used to their advantages with eight goals scored and only one conceded on their route to the final.
A defensive solidity has been key to their progress, recording five clean sheets in six competitive games, but Davis knows that they are just as good going forward and that is what he hopes can be the difference on Sunday.
Sunday, July 9
UEFA Regions’ Cup Final: Zagreb v Region 2 – TFF Riva, Istanbul, KO 14:30