Limerick's Aaron Tier in action for Ireland at the CP Games
AS the footballing nation prepares for Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane to lead our boys in green into two massive games over the next week against Moldova (Home) and Wales (Away) that will dictate our World Cup group fate, one Limerick man has been reminiscing on his own and Ireland's 2017 World Championship experience.
Born and raised in the shadow of St. Mary's Church, Aaron Tier was born with cerebral palsy and from a very young age was not expected to even walk.
That back story is what makes this 22 year old's sporting journey even more of an achievement.
Aaron, with the support of his family, years of physiotherapy and his own desire and hard work, has represented Ireland in Paralympic Football across the globe in countries including Spain, Holland and the Paralympic Games in Brazil last year.
Last month, some seven years on from his first international cap, Aaron and his Irish international team mates travelled to Argentina for the IFCPF World Championships.
In a sixteen team, five continent tournament with the best cerebral palsy teams from the around the world, Ireland were grouped with Brazil, Spain and Canada.
Kicking off their first game against Canada, Tier started in the centre back position and by his own very high standards "had a mixed game" that went from high to low within a matter of minutes.
With only three minutes left on the clock Aaron unleashed a shot from thirty plus yards that found its way into the back of the Canadian net to put Ireland into a 3 - 2 lead and in with a great chance for a perfect start to the competition.
The excitement was to be short lived though, as moments later Aaron was judged to have brought down one of the Canadian players in the penalty area resulting in a spot kick and a red card for the local lad.
The Canadians duly accepted their gift, slotted home the penalty spot and the game ended 3 - 3.
Next up for the boys in green were Brazil and with Aaron suspended for the game following dismissal against Canada, the Brazilian team ran out comfortable 5 - 0 winners.
With other results in the group not going their way, this left Ireland in a precarious position of needing to not only win, but overturn a eight goal difference between them and Canada; who had beaten Spain 4 - 1 in their second game.
The final group games saw Canada lose 2 - 0 to Brazil and Ireland scoring a last minute goal to beat Spain 7 - 0 and progress ahead of Canada on goal difference by just one single goal. A truly fantastic achievement with Aaron once again on the scoresheet for his country.
In the second round of the tournament Ireland faced the much fancied Russian team who proved too strong, running out 5 - 0 winners.
The tournament was not over, as next up for Team Ireland was the Netherlands and with four goals from Dillon Sheridan and another for Tier easily saw off the Dutch outfit.
The final match of the campaign was the 5th/6th place play off game against tournament surprise package USA.
Our Limerick hero once again got on the score sheet, bringing the boys in green level after 22 minutes.
A second quickly followed from Dillon Sheridan on the stroke of half time to put Ireland 2 - 1 up but unfortunately for the Irish team, the U.S.A. side would go on to score twice in injury time at the end of the game and snatch victory with the game finishing 3 - 2.
With numerous caps and goals under his belt, the Limerick native has no intention of stopping any time soon and is a true example of a Limerick Sporting Hero who has overcome obstacles to represent his family, city and country across the globe with dignity, class and unbelievable ability.
Speaking about his achievement, Aaron said: “Football has given me opportunities to visit and play in so many different countries. To play international football is the highest level that any athlete can achieve, that I am proud of."
"I'd like to thank in particular Mike McCarthy but everyone in the FAI in Limerick and their Football For All department who have encouraged and supported me throughout,” he added.