Cerebral palsy football team return from Europe with bronze

Winning goal scored by captain Gary Messett just two months after father’s murder

 

The Irish Cerebral Palsy football team returned to Dublin from the European Championships on Monday having secured a bronze medal.

The squad beat hosts Netherlands 2-1 in the third place play-off of the Cerebral Palsy European Championships on Sunday. It was the second time the team clinched third place in the tournament.

The winning goal was scored by Gary Messett, the son of Bobby Messett who was murdered two months ago when a gunman entered the gym of Pete Taylor, father of Olympic boxing gold-medallist Katie, and opened fire. Gardaí believe the 50-year-old was killed in a case of mistaken identity.

In the 47th minute of the game in the Dutch town of Zeist, Limerick man Aaron Tier put Ireland in front before Messett secured the win close to the final whistle.

The result is an improvement on the team’s performance in the World Championship last year in which they finished sixth.

‘Absolutely delighted’

“We are absolutely delighted. I’m lost for words. Overall I think we deserved it not just for the performance today but across the tournament as a whole,” the team’s head coach, Paul Breen, said.

“We have progressed from a sixth place finish at the World Championships to a third place at the European Championships. It is no more than the players deserve for the work they’ve put in.

“Hopefully this will help raise the profile of CP football and encourage more players to take up the game. The funding from the FAI, Paralympics Ireland and Sport Ireland has been so important and without that then none of this would have been possible,” Breen told the FAI website.

Before the tournament Messett, the team captain, had set his sights on reaching the semi-finals at least.

Father’s death

In March, Messett was named FAI Football for All International Player of the Year just two months before his father’s death.

Speaking before the tournament, Messett, who plays for Arklow Town, said: “I lost my father a month and a half ago. All my family are coming over to support me, though. To be able to captain the team will be a great honour. I’m hoping to do the best I can for my team, my family and my friends.”

The Irish team won all four of their group games, including defeating Denmark 8-0, before being beaten 3-0 by Ukraine in the semi-final. The tournament was eventually won by Russia who beat Ukraine 3-2 on Sunday.