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Friday 15 Mar 2024
Men’s futsal squad for Euro qualifiers revealed

The Northern Ireland men's futsal squad has been announced for two home friendlies against San Marino later this month and European qualifiers in Cyprus in April.

The friendly internationals are due to be staged at Newry Leisure Centre on Saturday 23 March (KO 15:00) and Sunday 24 March (KO 11:00). Entry is free to both games.

The games will be the first home futsal internationals since January 2020 prior to the Covid pandemic.

The Northern Ireland squad will travel to Cyprus next month to compete in Group A of the UEFA Futsal Euro 2026 Preliminary Qualifiers. They will face Andorra on Tuesday 9 April (KO 15:30 local time), Cyprus on Wednesday 10 April (KO 11:00 local time) and Estonia on Friday 12 April (KO 15:30 local time).

Captain Adam Barr said: “The squad cannot wait for the five matches in the next month. It has been a long time since we played in front of a home crowd and we are anticipating a brilliant atmosphere which will be a great send-off for our qualifying campaign.

“The preparations have been excellent and as a group we have been taking on new concepts and view the San Marino games as good opportunities to test these in competition. We have confidence going into the qualification games that we have a realistic chance to qualify. If that could be achieved it would make history for Northern Ireland futsal.”

The squad is being led on a temporary basis by Stuart Cook, who will be supported by Garth Smith and Darius Dielininkaitis. Previous head coach Jonathan Michael has moved into ateam manager role.

Cook boasts an impressive international futsal career with England, with 80 caps and 31 goals. He is also the current head coach of Bolton Futsal Club.

He said: “I am looking forward to the challenge that these international games will bring. The squad have prepared well. We have a balanced mix of experience and youth in the group and I am excited to see how they take on and implement the messages and information we have covered in what is a short but important period of time leading to these fixtures.”

The interim head coach added: “I believe we have players that can challenge in the preliminary fixtures and our objective will be seeking qualification through this stage for the first time.

“I have experienced this in the past as a player and welcome the opportunity to achieve this as a coach and can sense the players are ready to push themselves to achieve.”

The squad is as follows:

Goalkeepers - Matthew McErlain (Sparta Belfast Futsal Club), Philip Irvine (World United Futsal Club).

Fixes - Adam Barr (Bolton Futsal Club), Darius Roohi (Sparta Belfast Futsal Club).

Wings - Caolan Dobney (Loughborough Students Futsal Club), Conor Kernohan (Bolton Futsal Club), Danny Stapleton (Manchester Futsal Club), Declan Starrs (Bloomsbury Futsal Club), John Gibson (Sparta Belfast Futsal Club), Josh Lowry (Sparta Belfast Futsal Club), Ryan McMenemy (Sparta Belfast Futsal Club), Scott Gunn (Bolton Futsal Club).

Pivots - Chris Donnelly (Futsal Escocia), Connor Millar (Bloomsbury Futsal Club).

Tickets for the games against San Marino in Newry this month can be reserved via the following Eventbrite links:

Image: The Northern Ireland men’s futsal squad’s managers/coaches. They are (from left) Jonathan Michael, Garth Smith, Darius Dielininkaitis, Stuart Cook.