HOME FARM’S WHITEHALL played host to a legend of the game on Saturday as Ireland’s Over 40s welcomed the Czech Republic.
Among the visiting squad was 6ft 7in striker Jan Koller, who scored 55 senior international goals (including one against Ireland in 2006) during a career which saw him win the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund.
In front of over 1,000 present, the 40-year-old was kept quiet by a solid Irish defence but popped up at the back post to head past Mick Devine in the 69th minute for the only goal of the game.
Ireland, set up earlier this year but playing their first fixture since being given the green light by the FAI to become the official representative side for the association, had several chances to pull level late on but substitutes Marc Kenny and Mark Rutherford were unable to find the back of the net.
Czech captain and goalscorer Koller. Credit: Facebook/ROI over 40s International Squad
Despite the result, the event proved a great success. As well as raising funds for Cystic Fibrosis, the team aims to tackle the issues of mental and physical health by allowing players to have prolong their careers into their 40s.
“We got turned over but they came in with five very experienced players including Koller, Ivo Ulich, Karol Rada and Martin Hysky,” said Ireland’s Mark O’Neill.
“We missed four or five chances and should have at least drawn the game. I’m just glad that Patrick Berger and Vladimir Smicer pulled out!”
Next up is a meeting with Wales at the same venue on 28 September before a glamour tie against the Ajax Over 40s, who are believed to be bringing the likes of Ronald De Boer, Michael Mols, Marc Overmars and Aaron Winter to Dublin on 9 November.
The starting XI for Ireland was as follows: Tony O’Dowd, Greg O’Dowd, Sean Egan, Paul Perth, John Swift, Mark O’Neill, Paul McGhee, Paul Byrne, Aaron Lynch, Derek Treacy, Brian Byrne. Subs: Mick Devine, Collie Notaro, Marc Kenny, Mark Rutherford, Colm Tressan.
Koller being marked by Ireland’s Collie Notaro. Credit: Facebook/ROI over 40s International Squad