Tommy smyth

Go Ireland!

Team Ireland are through to the quarterfinals of the Cosmos Copa NYC tournament this Sunday after going undefeated in three games during the group stage at Corona Flushing Meadow Park in Queens last Saturday.

Standing between the Irish and a third consecutive semi-final appearance are Mexico. The two nations will play at Flushing Meadow Park at 12 Noon on Sunday.

Team Ireland — runners-up in the inaugural tournament in 2009 and 3rd last year — opened with a 1-1 tie against Greece. Brian King snatched the equalizing goal for the Irish. That was followed by a 2-1 victory over Italy, with Ian Byrne and Conor Hunter scoring for the winners. Hunter was on target again for the clinching 1-1 tie against Colombia. The Greeks also advanced to the quarterfinals.

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“We are now regrouping and 100 percent focused on next week’s [games] against Mexico,” said Irish manager Kevin Grogan. “Mexico are a very good team.”

He gave his men two thumbs up for their performance in group play.

“We worked hard. It’s a long day with three games so close to each other. I’m proud of all my players and staff for the great effort,” Grogan remarked.

He cited in particular 25-year-old Patrick Cregg, one of three “overseas” draftees allowed, who began his career with a handful of appearances with Arsenal in the league cup in 2004-2005. The Dubliner Cregg has since played 144 games in the Scottish Premier League for Falkirk, Hibernian and lately St. Mirren and has won Under-19 and Under-21 honors for Ireland.

“You could see he was a class above in terms of his technical ability, his awareness,” said the Ireland boss. “And as the tournament goes on, he will improve.

“A lot of MLS [Major League Soccer] teams are watching him during this tournament,” added Grogan, whose own Manchester United career was cut short by injury.

Grogan assembled his players at the venue the previous weekend. “It was better they got lost that Saturday than last,” he said.

He recommended the subway as the easiest way for fans to get there. “You get off at the 2nd last stop of the 7 Train, at Citi Field [Willets Point],” Grogan said.

Spectators on Sunday should then go into the park to the Industry Pond, turn left and walk under the Van Wyck Expressway to the fields adjacent to the Fowler Recreation Center.