Wanted: talented footballers to represent Ireland in the 2011 Cosmos Copa NYC next month.
Ahead of Ireland's third campaign in the competition for community-based "national teams," new boss Kevin Grogan is searching for top Irish players to fly the tricolour in this year's expanded event.
The first trials are scheduled this Thursday night (8 p.m. to 10 p.m.) at East River park on East 6th Street and FDR Drive.
"We're looking for anyone who's Irish, has Irish parents or Irish [roots]," Grogan said on Sunday from Hicksville, L.I.
The 29-year-old former Manchester United youth player was on Long Island with Paul "Doc" Doherty, his predecessor as Team Ireland coach, scouting for players at an Irish Rovers-Mineola match.
Competition for places is expected to be extremely tight as Grogan, whose coaching stock rocketed after he rescued Lansdowne Bhoys from relegation in the Cosmopolitan Soccer League [CSL], ruled out automatic picks.
"My philosophy is that everyone has to come to the trials and have to prove themselves. There'll definitely be no automatic places, I'll give everyone a chance," he insisted.
The youthful head coach will select 20 U.S.-based players and hope that plans to fly in three top-notch former professionals - as permitted by the Copa organizers - work out.
"We're allowed three overseas players but they have to be Irish," Grogan said. He declined to reveal which players he has in mind but said that they'd be young and quality performers.
Ireland were runners-up in the inaugural Copa in 2009 and finished third last year.
Grogan was only marginally in these two previous campaigns because of work commitments but declared that it would be full steam ahead this time around.
His technical team includes Willie Dempsey of the Irish Rovers as general manager and Doherty in charge of logistics. ESPN analyst Tommy Smyth returns as president.
Grogan earned a reputation as a miracle worker of sorts in the spring after taking charge of Lansdowne in the CSL top flight with six games remaining. The Bhoys went on to win four games and avoid relegation.
Now christened the Cosmos Copa after receiving backing from the resurrected New York Cosmos, the 30-team event kicks off June 18 with a preliminary qualifying tournament. Ireland don't join the fray until July 9 when group play begins.
The quarterfinals are scheduled for July 17, the semis on July 23 and the final on July 24.