Walking footballers from around Dublin are looking forward to the Tommy Fogarty Cup

THIS weekend will see Blanchardstown club Verona donate their grounds for the first Tommy Fogarty Cup, a celebration of walking football in north Dublin.

The FAI and Fingal County Council have joined forces for a series of walking football events in the county over the past few months, but this is the first to be hosted by a senior club.

Teams from nearby Corduff, Hartstown Huntstown and Abbotstown will be present, as well as Clontarf and out-of-county sides from Offaly and Carlow.

Anybody who wishes to show up on the day and take part will be accommodated with a team on the day – registration begins at 11.30am and games will begin by midday.

“The FAI are running a number of walking football programmes in a number of areas around the country,” said FAI development officer for Dublin 15, Paul Breen.

“We’ve been doing one recently in Corduff Sports Centre and another one up in Hartstown Huntstown and one in Abbotstown.

“This is the first time we’ve got a club to come on board and we’re trying to get more involved. Maybe it’s an option for setting up a league between clubs or teams.

“The idea of this one is to invite clubs in, with the current walk-up of small groups to play blitz, and Verona were very good to offer their pitch and their facilities to host it.

“They’ve taken it on board and called it the Tommy Fogarty Cup, which is a former member of theirs who had passed on, and it’s in memory of him.

“It’s a good opportunity to get clubs in and try to promote it and make people aware of it, because a lot of people aren’t really aware that [walking football] is being played.”

Walking football is aimed at people who wish to continue their involvement in football in advancing years but is open to all ages with rules designed to ensure a level playing field.

As the name suggests, running is against the rules and tackling is also prohibited, while the ball cannot travel above head height.

“It’s aimed at older members of society, but it’s not restricted to older members,” Breen says.

“We’ve had people involved in their 30s and 40s that maybe had heart conditions or health issues, so it’s a good way for them to get exercise. There’s no contact element to it at all.

“You’d be surprised at how technical it is. A lot of the guys that play have played before, so they still have the touch and the knowledge. It would surprise you how good the game is.”

A key part of the sport is the social aspect of meeting like-minded people, male or female, and Verona have offered their bar for post-tournament tea and sandwiches.

“Generally, after the walking football programmes the FAI have, there’s always a cup of tea afterwards because there’s the football aspect as well as the fitness aspect.”