Belfast Telegraph

Goalkeeper Justin Guiney stars as amputee footballers excel in Euro competition

By Allan Preston

Ireland's amputee football team have secured their greatest victory yet - progressing to the quarter finals of the sport's European championship for the first time.

Following narrow losses to England and world champions Russia, the Irish side fought back to survive the 'group of death' with a 4-0 victory over Greece yesterday in Istanbul.

Sharing in the celebrations was goalkeeper Justin Guiney (27) from Magheralin, Co Down.

Having lost his left arm in 2011 after an industrial accident in Moira, he told the Belfast Telegraph he was overjoyed to be competing on the European stage.

"It's just taken my life to another level," he said.

"I was saying to the guys that six years after losing my arm I never would have thought I would be playing international level football at a European championship.

"I'm honestly over the moon to be here and be part of this squad."

Amputee football is played with 10 outfield players on crutches, with arm amputees in goals.

"Everybody has worked so hard to get here, it's finally paid off," said Justin.

"Being able to compete with those top-level teams like Russia and England shows how far the squad has come to get here."

"Our captain James Boyle from Donegal said to us, 'We're here because we deserve to be - we can look up at the other teams but we shouldn't as we're on the same level'."

At present Justin is the only representative from Northern Ireland on the team. Last year the Irish Football Association expressed interest in fielding a Northern Ireland team one day due to the sport's growing popularity. Ireland will now face either Poland or hosts Turkey in the quarter finals.

Buoyed by their convincing win yesterday, Justin said the Irish team weren't content to go home yet.

"Beating Greece 4-0 was amazing, but we were actually disappointed not to score more. There was at least two or three more in us," he said. "Everyone was feeling a bit down after two losses but that games showed what we can really do.

"Now that we're in the quarters, it's the best we've ever got but we're taking it seriously and one game at a time."

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