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Thursday 19 Oct 2023
Northern Ireland Powerchair team: meet the squad

Northern Ireland’s Powerchair team are currently in Australia competing at the FIPFA Powerchair World Cup finals for the first time.

Six players were chosen for the Northern Ireland squad. Coached by Michael Hilland, they have spent this week battling it out against nine other nations at Sydney Olympic Park’s Quay Centre.

Here we meet the members of the squad:

Scott Hilland (captain)

Hilland, who is from Newtownards, captains both Northern Ireland and Belfast Trailblazers.

He was a founding member of the Trailblazers, the first Powerchair Football Club established in Northern Ireland. That was back in 2010.

The 25-year-old, who has been an ever present in the Northern Ireland squad, was named Ulster Disability Footballer of the Year in 2019.

He captained Northern Ireland during their first major tournament appearance, the European Powerchair Football Association (EPFA) Nations Cup in 2019.

Prior to this World Cup, Hilland had represented his country on 18 occasions, scoring eight goals, including a brace in a World Cup play-off semi-final against Austria.

At club level he has won a handful of trophies with Trailblazers, who compete in the Association of Irish Powerchair Football (AIPF) National League.

Honours: one AIPF Premiership (2023); two AIPF Cup (2013, 2022); two AIPF Shield (2011, 2018).

Patrick Cumiskey

The Northern Ireland and Belfast Trailblazers winger has established himself as one of the country’s leading players since starting in 2017.

Prior to this World Cup, the 19-year-old, who lives in Monaghan, was Northern Ireland Powerchair’s all-time leading goalscorer, with 10 goals from his 18 outings in green and white.

He scored the winning goal in Northern Ireland’s 1-0 World Cup play-off final win against Finland to send them to Sydney.

He has been equally as prolific for his club, finishing runner-up in the league’s top goalscorer charts last season and claiming AIPF Player of the Year as his side were crowned champions.

He was also named the 2022 Ulster Disability Footballer of the Year.

Cumiskey has the unique accolade of finding the net in every competition he has played in.

Honours: one AIPF Premiership (2023); one AIPF Cup (2022); one AIPF Shield (2018).

Bartek Kuszkowski

A relative newcomer to the squad, 14-year-old Kuszkowski made his senior international debut this year in a Home Nations match against the Republic of Ireland. He also subsequently featured against Scotland and England.

Having only started playing in 2021 for club side Lightning PFC, his rise through the international development ranks and on to the plane to Sydney is a testament to the commitment and ability he has shown in his play.

A winger by trade, the Lisburn teenager plays with great composure for a young player, always looking to make a positive impact.

Honours: one AIPF Shield (2022).

Jason Browning

A founding member of Belfast Trailblazers, the 28-year-old has since gone on to set up Lightning PFC (in 2013) where he now serves as player-manager.

An experienced player in the Northern Ireland set-up, he has been capped 18 times, finding the net on three occasions before heading to Australia.

The inaugural winner of the Ulster Disability Footballer of the Year award in 2016, the Belfast man is a versatile winger.

Browning laid on key goals for his team-mates as they secured qualification for the World Cup.

He has won several trophies as a player with Lightning PFC.

Honours: one AIPF Championship (2016); one AIPF Cup (2013); two AIPF Shield (2011, 2022).

Carl McVeigh

The 25-year-old striker from Belfast is another founding member of Belfast Trailblazers PFC.

A stalwart of the Northern Ireland Powerchair squad, McVeigh picked up seven caps as a senior international before making his first appearance at the FIPFA (Federation Internationale de Powerchair Football Association) Powerchair Football World Cup final tournament.

He was a member of the Trailblazers’ first team squad who were crowned AIPF champions in 2023. 

McVeigh is a fierce competitor with a poacher’s instinct.

Honours: one AIPF Premiership (2023); two AIPF Cup (2013, 2022); two AIPF Shield (2011, 2018).

Sean McKinney

Aged just 16, goalkeeper McKinney turns out for Belfast Trailblazers at club level.

The Belfast teenager was a member of the 2019 EPFA Nations squad that qualified for the World Cup.

He became the youngest player to earn a senior cap for Northern Ireland Powerchair when making his debut aged 12 against world champions France.

He has since gone on to cement himself as number one for his country, accumulating a total of 12 caps prior to the World Cup.

Great defensive displays this term were rounded off with McKinney making a crucial penalty save on the final day of the season as his side clinched the league title.

He is renowned for his communication and organisation of his defence.

Honours: one AIPF Premiership (2023); one AIPF Cup (2022); one AIPF Shield (2018).