Former Institute striker Austin Friel has helped Ireland win the World Cup.
Friel, who moved to the United States of America a few years ago, was coach of the NYC Ireland side which won the 2015 Cosmos Copa Championship in New York.
The 34-year-old, who also manages Lansdowne Bhoys a side from the New York/New Jersey Cosmopolitan Soccer League, was delighted his side saw off NYC Colombia 3-2 in the final.
The NYC Ireland squad, which included ex-Derry City winger Gareth McGlynn, featured several players from Northern Ireland and Ireland who’ve previously played in the NIFL Premiership or League of Ireland.
Other players are Irish or Northern Irish students who play college soccer in the United States. The team also features American students who play college soccer and have either a parent or grandparent born in Ireland or Northern Ireland.
“The guy has nerves of steel. He’s ice cold in front of goal,” NYC Ireland coach Austin Friel said of Ian Sweeney, the man who fired home their winner from the penalty spot.
“There’s no other man I’d want in that situation.”
The championship is the first in team history for NYC Ireland. In the first Cosmos Copa back in 2009, the Irish made it all the way to the championship game before falling to NYC Albania.
“Let me tell you it has been a long hard struggle,” Friel said. “Everyone had to give up their summers for training and giving up every weekend during the summer, it has been hard graft.
“Finally all the hard work has paid off, it feels very rewarding now for all the time and effort that me and my coaching staff and players have put in that the victory over NYC Colombia means we have all been rewarded, but to be honest it hasn’t even sunk in yet.”
Named after the legendary NASL club, the New York Cosmos, who have ex-Real Madrid and Spanish legendary striker Raul currently playing up front for them, Cosmos Copa was founded in the summer of 2009.
It is a soccer tournament played in New York City between local, community based, ‘national teams’.
Cosmos Copa has grown into one of the most prominent and prestigious adult soccer tournaments in the United States because of the professional presentation and exposure that the players receive.
It has grown from 16 teams in its founding year seven years ago, to 32 teams this year.