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Northern Ireland teams make history at the Homeless World Cup

By Josh Bunting

Northern Ireland’s Homeless World Cup squads both created history with fine displays in Oslo.

The Men’s side came 12th place overall - their highest ever finish at the tournament - while in their first World Cup, the Ladies finished 16th - a fantastic achievement for a team that included some players never to have played the game before.

In order to qualify to play in the tournament, players must have been homeless in the past year.

Selected by Street Soccer NI the men’s side included some fantastic players as Conor Deane has played and captained Northern Ireland U18s squad and Dominic Kelly plied his trade at the Milk Cup.

Results included wins against an impressive Ukraine side, Switzerland and Zimbabwe to name just a few in a highly successful competition.

Gavin Martin, Oisin Donnelly, Roy Lillis and Stephen Hawkins also put in several top class displays with Lillis pulling off some incredible saves in goal.

There were plenty of goals scored as the captain Deane grabbed 23 as Kelly was close behind with 20.

As for the Women, managed by Claire Rea and Clare Carson and coached by Lisa Donnan, they put in some fabulous displays that saw them overcome Belgium on two occasions as Catrina Sheehan scored a goal of the tournament contender.

Claire Masterson was the driving force behind the team as she scored in all but one game and bagged the highest average goal ratio in the tournament.

Pheobe Clawson also chipped in with her fair share of goals including a fantastic volley against the Netherlands in what turned into one of the games of the tournament, where goalkeeper Ashlee Young put in another brilliant performance as she made some terrific saves.

Young also won the referees whistle for fair play - a marvellous achievement for the young stopper.

Nicole McClurg was the final player in the history-making side as her energy on the pitch was a big reason that the side was so successful and she was clinical in front of goal.

The eventual winners may have been Brazil in the men’s and Mexico in the Women’s but the Green and White army can be extremely proud of their efforts.

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