Patrick Cregg, a midfielder once on the books of Arsenal, Falkirk and most recently St. Mirren, has been included in the Irish squad for the 2011 Cosmos Copa NYC tournament that begins in earnest this Saturday.
The 22-man Irish squad is drawn in Group D with Greece, Italy and Colombia. They get their third campaign for the prestigious amateur cup rolling with an early morning (9 a.m.) match against the Greeks at Corona Park, in Queens' Flushing Meadows.
Cregg and Co., then face Italy at 11 a.m. before tackling Colombia at 1 p.m. Each group match will be an hour-long (25 minutes each half). There are 16 teams in the group stage and the top two teams from each will advance to the quarterfinals on July 17.
The semi-finals are scheduled for July 23 and the final on July 24.
While the inclusion of the 25 year-old Cregg and Futsal star Ian Byrne, who's 21 and a striker, should give the Irish an extra edge, coach Kevin Grogan insisted that his men were not the favorites in Group D.
"I'm confident that we can compete but we respect the other teams," he remarked.
Goalie Gavin McInerney from upstate Buffalo is the third of Ireland's three "overseas" players allowed under the rules.
Cregg started his senior career at Arsenal. He made his first senior appearance in a 3-1 win over Everton in the League Cup in November 2004. He joined Scottish Premier League club Falkirk in January 2006 and made over 100 appearances in the Scottish Premier League. His last game was in the 2009 Scottish Cup Final.
The former Irish Under-19 and Under-21 international later turned out for Hibernian and St. Mirren but is currently listed as unattached.
Alan "Ginger" O'Hara, inspirational skipper of the Irish team that finished runners-up in the inaugural Copa tournament in 2009 and last year's third place finishers, is another notable in Grogan's squad.
So is Lansdowne Bhoys' livewire forward Conor Hunter.
The rest of the squad comprises: goalie Alan Reilly; Dec Reilly, Stephen Conway, Ciaran Hughes, Desmond Farrelly, Kevin McPhilips, Peter Hatzer (defender.
Brian King, Robbie Kinearney, Conor O'Donaghue, Cian McBrien, Kevin Walsh, Eoin Dolan, Damien Mescall [midfielders]; and forwards David Ryan, Austin Freil and Michael Henderson.
"I'm happy with the squad," said Grogan, a former Manchester United man himself. "I've picked a certain style of players; we're training hard and starting to gel."