world university games - team ireland football preview

29 June 2009

Ireland's World University Games campaign kicks off today [Tuesday 30 June] with the men's and women's footballers in action in Serbia. This morning in the capital Belgrade, the Irish woman have a 10:30am kick off against Japan, and in the evening the men take on Uruguay in the 5:30pm fixture.

By Chris Barnes
Team Ireland Press Officer in Belgrade

The women's side has been forced to re-shuffle the pack as a thumb injury to goalkeeper Tiarna McKenna from UUJ, has forced Bronagh Sheridan in between the sticks. The Cavan GAA county player is a regular outfield for the Irish 11 but manager Sue Ronan says she can do the job.

"She has attributes any goalkeeper would love to have - she's vocal, very brave, her kicking is excellent and her fielding of the ball she gets from Gaelic is excellent, and I don't think she'll let us down," Ronan said.

Both teams won't be able to play the chasing game under the strong Serbian sun and will find it tough in the humidity, but up to know it has been far from the scorching temperatures the teams expected.

Men's team manager Kieran Harding, said: "We came here prepared for 35 degrees heat and we adopted our preparations both at home and subsequently here to deal with that. It has been a pleasant surprise that it hasn't been those temperatures.

"Probably it's not the ideal preparations that we could be playing on Tuesday and Thursday in 35 degree heat when we have been training in 20 to 25 degrees. But we have had to just make the most of it and we're not going to change the way we're going to play and the way we plan to play."

Two years ago at the World University Games in Thailand, the men played out a friendly draw with Uruguay and are expecting a similarly physically strong, mature footballing side. Harding will be wanting his more experienced players to step up to the challenge.

"I want the experienced players to perform, Billy Brennan in goals has been here before, Stephen Roche in midfield has been here before, so we're looking at them to use their experience of playing at this level before. Then we've also the likes of Irish League and League of Ireland players like Mark Surgenor, James Costello, Gareth Harkin, John Mulroy."

The ladies team have been preparing for the last few days for the clash with the Japanese and manager Sue Ronan is expecting big things from her young squad. Japan played Team GB in a friendly on Sunday and beat the British 4-0.

Ronan said: "It's important to get something from the first game. Very important not to lose it. It's a very young and inexperienced squad and we have only trained twice as an entire squad but we have got good training sessions in and the girls have put in the work. They are all intelligent and all eager to learn."

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