Paralympic Soccer: Exhausted Irish fall to Ukrainian magic in Spain

Ukraine 9 (Devlysh 18, 23 31; Antoniuk 24; Dutko 26, 28; Romanchuk 51 60, Ponomaryov 58) Ireland 0

The semi-final of the CPISRA Intercontinental Cup proved a bridge too far
for the exhausted Irish panel in Spain on Wednesday night.
This extremely young squad had exceeded all expectations by reaching the
final four of this prestigious world tournament in Sant Cugat del Vallès,
just 18 months after failing to qualify for the Paralympics.

The exertions took their toll however against the fully professional squad
that Ukraine could call on, and although they got through the first quarter
without having their defences breached, conceded five goals in 10 minutes
before half time.

Ukraine had another straight after the restart and also added two in the
final two minutes to give the scoreline a slightly skewed slant.
There was no questioning the superiority of the former World and Paralympic
champions, but Ireland’s defence was very resolute early one, with the shape
at the back particularly good and the midfield retreating effectively.

While there were some good last ditch blocks, and Brian McGillivary had to
make one smart stop, Ukraine took some time to create a clearcut
opportunity. Indeed Tom Badun had a half-chance for the Boys In Green,
flashing a shot just wide from outside the box. The 16-year-old’s pace
caused plenty of problems for Ukraine early on and Gary Messett was always
available on the right flank.

Once the tournament’s leading marksman, Oleksandr Devlysh opened the scoring
in the 18th minute though, the floodgates opened, with Devlysh grabbing a
second and Volodymyr Antoniuk finding the net immediately after. There was
still time for Taras Dutko to grab a brace before half time.
Devlysh registered his hat-trick in the second minute of the second half to
bring his overall tally for the Intercontinental Cup to nine but Ireland
held out for another 20 minutes before Vitalii Romanchuk beat McGillivary.

Ukraine continued to pour forward against the jaded Irish and Denys
Ponomaryov and Romanchuk, who  both came off the bench, made it nine.
Ireland manager Paul Cassin could do nothing but praise the victors.

“As long as the Russians and Ukraine play in a professional league we will
always be playing catch-up but this has been a brilliant tournament and with
such a young squad, we have plenty to build on, especially as we achieved
our target of qualifying for the World Championships.”

Ukraine: K Symashko, V Antoniuk, V Trushev, I Shkvarlo, T Dutko, Y Zinoview,
O Devylsh. Subs: V Romanchuk, D Ponomaryov, D Molodtsov
Ireland: B McGillivary, J Markey, D Snell, L Evans, D Byrne, G Messett, T
Badun. Subs: E O’Flaherty, D Sheridan


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