Result moves Ireland a step closer to quarter-finals and precious Paralympic Games qualification
Ireland’s Paralympic football team secured an emphatic victory today in their second group game at the Cerebral Palsy Football World Championships defeating Australia 4-1. Following an opening defeat to tournament favourites Russia this was a game Ireland needed to win to ensure their tournament stayed on course.
After two rounds in Group B Russia have two wins, Ireland and Australia one win and loss each with Portugal yet to get any points on the board. The Irish team have just forty eight hours to rest and recover before their final group game against Portugal on Saturday, at 1pm, while Russia take on Australia.
The top two teams in each of the four groups reach the quarter-finals. These World Championships are the only chance the Irish team have to secure a precious qualifying spot at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. Should the Irish team reach the quarter-finals they can be almost certain of a qualification place.
Speaking immediately after the game Irish captain Luke Evans said; “It was just so important to get the job done today; the result was all that mattered. Not for a second did we underestimate the Australians. After their win over Portugal in the first game this was like a cup game, they needed to win just as much as we did. They gave it everything, you can’t underestimate that will. It’s just great to get the three points and now we can focus on the next game on Saturday.”
Bray midfielder Gary Messett opened the scoring for the Irish on eight minutes with his second goal of the tournament. The Irish side consistently put the Australians under pressure for the remainder of the half with several chances, notably from Messett, Jason Moran and Dillon Sheridan who was making an impression down the right. Dublin teenager Carl McKee winning only his fourth cap looked assured and comfortable in defence alongside captain Luke Evans.
Almost ten minutes into the second half Ballyfermot United’s Sheridan secured reward for his hard work with a low strike from distance to make it 2-0. The breakthrough for the Australians came midway through the half when they were awarded a penalty for an innocuous enough challenge by Irish captain Luke Evans which they converted to pull the deficit back to a single goal. Gerard Glynn’s Irish side responded impressively with sub Eric O’Flaherty hitting the crossbar with a tremendous strike before converting a great ball from Messett to push Ireland to a 3-1 lead. Sheridan closed out the game for the Irish in the final minute with a great individual goal to secure the 4-1 win.