On June 25th at a midtown Manhattan venue, the groups were announced for Cosmo Copa 2012.
The well-attended event was emceed by New York Cosmos legend, Shep Messing. Messing, who was born and raised in New York, has Irish roots. He outlined the importance of the competition and how he wished it was around when he was growing up.
ESPN commentator and NYC Ireland honorary president, Tommy Smyth then took to the mic to encourage teams and communities to get involved in Copa. The tournament is developing year by year, this is illustrated through the hard work and dedication put in by players, managers and coaches.
Tommy concluded his speech by wishing all teams in the tournament the best of luck, but wishing Ireland a little more luck.
Ireland had already pre-qualified for doing well in the competition last year along with seven other teams- forming the "Elite 8". Poland, Senegal, Columbia, England, Greece, Haiti and Jamaica were among this group.
The rest of the teams had to battle it out to make their way into the group stages. The other eight teams to qualify were Afghanistan, Argentina, Bolivia, France, Italy, USA, Ivory Coast and Uruguay.
Four groups were made up of the 16 teams on the night.
Ireland drew Senegal, Ivory Coast and Greece- a rather tough group, but the Irish boys will have no problem coming out on top no doubt.
Ireland NYC have taken on nine new boys to their squad from last year. Top players from last year's team- Dec Reilly, Sean Purcell and Conor Hunter are back in force again with the nine other lads that were on 2011s team.
Irelands team is brought together by players from different clubs across New York. As well as having a strong squad of talented soccer players, the Irish have a dedicated committee behind them, with Paul Doherty, Pat McCarry (Shamrock FC), Pat Kelly (Manhattan Celtic) and Richard Hartnett putting in time and effort to the team.
The boys in green will play their first match of the group stages against Senegal on Saturday July 14th at Pier 40 at 7pm. The next two games will be played the following day against Ivory Coast and Greece starting at 12pm and the next game at 2pm at Randall's Island.
In order to come out of their group and reach the quarterfinals, the Irish lads are hoping to draw up a fan club like the Ireland soccer team had recently travelling to Poland. Everyones support would be greatly appreciated!
The Irish pub that became home base for 9/11 ground zero rescuers