Farrell flies the Irish flag

by Karl Graham

RATHFARNHAM man John Farrell showed that life is not over for homeless people as he and the Ireland team won the Plate Final at the Homeless World Cup in Glasgow, proving people can always bounce back from a lowest ebb.
While the team didn’t manage to make it through to the main final, they did remain unbeaten in normal time in their 13 games at the tournament, culminating in the plate decider, beating Egypt on penalties following a 4-4 draw in normal time.
The team scored an incredible 114 goals during the tournament, starting with a 4-4 draw against Lithuania and a win for Ireland on penalties. 65 goals later after wins over Bulgaria, the USA, Greece, and Sweden sent Ireland through to the next stage as comprehensive group winners.
Losses to Hungary and Chile on penalties were followed by victory over Soccer South London and a penalty win over Northern Ireland to get the team back on track.
They beat India 7-1 but a heartbreaking penalty shootout loss to Chile after a 6-6 draw saw them eliminated from the route to the main final, but entered in the quarter-finals for the Plate.
5-4 wins over Lithuania and Costa Rica saw Ireland through to the final, where they held there nerve and enjoyed a bit of the luck of the Irish to take the victory.
Goalkeeper Farrell was one of the team’s heroes after putting in a man of the match performance in the team’s first victory over Lithuania on penalties, and is just one example of the harrowing circumstances that result in homelessness.
Farrell had grown up around heroin and was introduced to drugs himself at just 12 years of age – starting off sniffing gas before moving on to alcohol, hash and eventually heroin.
He managed to continue in education but not before having a drink prior to entering the school gates.
Alcoholism and fighting began to take over his life and by the time he had reached his mid-twenties, circumstances in his life had turned him to the addiction that has claimed so many Irish lives.
Farrell was married with a baby daughter at this stage but this could not prevent him from wishing he no longer existed in this world if he could not beat his addictions. However, hitting rock bottom and a prayer to God led him to turn his life around.
Now 38 years of age, he works with other young people going through homelessness and addiction, when he’s not protecting his country’s goal.
The players are selected through nationwide trials in the Irish Street League and rely solely on donations to be able to keep the league running year after year.
To make a donation to the league you can visit their Facebook page at Irish Street Leagues.

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