Belfast Telegraph

Mooney aiming to hinder old Irish pals' World Cup bid


By Ian Callender

A former team-mate of the Ireland squad will be plotting their downfall at the World Cup qualifying tournament.

John Mooney, who played 182 games for the Irish, the last in October 2015, has been called up by former Ireland coach Phil Simmons to be Afghanistan's fielding coach ahead of the tournament in Zimbabwe in March.

Simmons was appointed Afghanistan coach at the start of the year and he has wasted no time in identifying another 'mole' who knows the vast majority of this current Ireland squad as well as any club-mate.

Mooney is keen on a possible career in coaching - he is currently player-coach at Clontarf and has been an assistant to another former Ireland international, Denmark coach Jeremy Bray.

Although he will now be hoping Afghanistan reach next year's World Cup finals, it was an offer he could not turn down.

"When Simmo rang me about the offer, it was amazing," said Mooney. "I obviously had to chat it through with my wife, Helena, before I could say yes, as I will be away for 10 weeks but we had no problem recognising how great an opportunity it is to really kick on in my coaching career."

Mooney could have won many more caps but he suffered from mental health problems for the last few years of his international career and at the beginning of 2014 had to return home early from a tournament in the Caribbean. He missed the next seven months but in his first match back he hit 96 in a one-day international against Scotland and he acknowledges the help Simmons gave him during that period.

He said: "Simmo has been like a father figure to me over the years. He has helped me through some really tough times and also been there for some of the greatest moments of my life (hitting the winning runs in the World Cup against England in 2011). It's a huge honour to be a part of an international set-up like this."

Meanwhile, Ireland Under-19s followed up their seniors' win against Afghanistan in the recent ODI series with a superb victory in the last group match at the World Cup finals in New Zealand.

Ballyspallen's Graham Kennedy top scored with 37 not out in Ireland's 225-8 and then took the first wicket as Afghanistan were bowled out for 221.

The squad had already been knocked out of the tournament but played their Plate quarter-final overnight against West Indies.

Belfast Telegraph

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