Once there were eight, and now there are just two; Eastern Region IRL and Zagreb will contend the UEFA Regions' Cup final at Tallaght Stadium at 16.00 local time on Saturday 4 July. Sadly, that means six of our teams are leaving us, meaning the hotel is considerably quieter. Wednesday night's farewell dinner was no sad occasion, though, with all teams receiving their commemorative plaques, while Württemberg and Ankara had the massive bonus of bronze medals to bother the metal detectors at airport security.
The players took the opportunity to wish each other a fitting farewell, and there was a heartening moment sometime around 04.00am when Dolnośląski goalkeeper Jarosław Krawczyk graciously apologised to Eastern Region NIR boss Harry McConkey for having the game of his life in their last-day encounter; had he conceded one more, the Northern Irish side would have headed back over the border with bronze medals.
All was forgiven, no apology necessary, with the homeward-bound players sobering up to the reality that this incredible footballing experience – with its brilliant pitches, top-class referees, superb opponents, and exceptional hospitality – was now over. However, as we hope you can see from our latest gallery, playing here in Dublin will give these amateur players every reason to redouble their efforts for the next edition of the UEFA Regions' Cup. It is worth the sacrifice.
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