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Thursday 13 Jul 2023
Over-60s walking football team get mojo back ahead of World Nations Cup

Northern Ireland’s Over-60s walking football team continued their preparations for the World Nations Cup next month by competing in an international tournament in the Republic of Ireland.

After lacklustre performances at an event in the Isle of Man in late June, they got their mojo back with some great displays at the tournament staged at Dublin’s AUL Complex.

They faced a challenging fixture list, coming up against representative sides from France, Italy, Switzerland, England, Isle of Man and the Republic.

But the squad (pictured) produced some impressive performances, starting with a 2-1 victory over Italy followed by a stunning show against England. They defeated the eventual tournament winners 2-0.

In their third match they were seconds away from another famous victory, against France, however they conceded a very late equaliser and the game finished 2-2.

Their only loss of the tournament came against a strong Republic team, going down 2-0 late in the game. 

The first encounter on matchday two was against Isle of Man and the fine form continued with a 2-1 win.

Going in to the final set of fixtures four teams were still in the mix to be crowned overall winners, including Northern Ireland.

Their final game against Switzerland saw them run out 5-0 winners, however it was not enough to secure the main prize.

England were the eventual winners of the tournament with 15 points. They edged the Republic on goal difference - by a single goal. Northern Ireland finished third overall on 13 points, an achievement that could only have been dreamed of at the outset.

Midfielder Michael Haddock was Northern Ireland’s top scorer with five goals. Anthony Cafolla weighed in with three goals, while there were two from David Lemon and a goal apiece from Michael Mahood, Joe Smyth and Gary McKeown, who was a late addition to the squad.

It wasn't just about the goals. Eddie Kelly, Ray Hunter and Tom Stewart performed heroics in defence, ably supported by Will Smyth in nets. The midfield engine, which was so important in all the games, was provided by Keith Campbell and Ricky Gardiner.

And physio Sam Lewis sorted out many tweaked hamstrings and other muscle injuries, ensuring maximum game time for all the players.

Manager Gary Barclay was full of praise for the squad, lauding the players’ commitment, attitude, ability and team spirit. He felt the Dublin tournament provided the perfect build-up to next month’s global festival of walking football.

St George’s Park, the FA’s national training centre in Staffordshire, is set to host the inaugural Federation of International Walking Football Associations (FIWFA) World Nations Cup from 24-26 August.

Selection for the Northern Ireland Over-60s team is open to any players from clubs affiliated to the Northern Ireland Walking Football Federation.

If you think you are good enough and are willing to put in the time and effort to train please contact NIWFF secretary David Lemon ( and he will liaise with manager Gary Barclay to arrange a trial.