Ireland were represented in two sports at the recent European youth Paralympic Games. Two table tennis players were joined by the Wheelchair Basketball squad in Pajulahti in Finland to compete against the best young Para Athletes on the continent.
Sean Geoghegan and Jude Shelton were the two table tennis athletes that competed for Team Ireland in a strong field. Jude Sheldon was drawn in a tough group against Pablo Jacobsen from Norway and Belgium’s Hamza Taleb. Shelton showed some real determination when he took Jacobsen to a fourth set in his opening game but he lost out 3-1 and with qualification looking unlikely it was a straight sets defeat in his final match against Taleb. It was a similar outcome for Sean Geoghegan who was drawn against Marcin Zielinski from Poland and Italian, Mirko Bruschi. Geoghegan battled bravely but fell just a little short as he didn’t qualify from his group.
Team Ireland’s Under 23 Wheelchair Basketball squad were in action in the 5 nation tournament where they competed against Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and hosts, Finland. It was a tough opening for the Irish group as they found the going tough against the Netherlands to whom they lost by 22:75. However, after getting the first match nerves had dissipated they began to find more form and showed improvement as they lost out to Portugal and Italy before clinching a place in the bronze medal match thanks to a won over Finland.
Portugal were the opponents in that bronze medal match and Ireland really put it up to their opponents as they showed dramatic improvements from their 32:63 defeat to the same opposition in the group phase. Ireland led at the end of the first quarter by a single point (13-14). However, the damage was done in the middle quarters which Portugal won by a combined 13 points. Despite an improved final quarter display it was a bridge too far. Jack Mangan was the Irish player to make the biggest impact on the score board with 17 points.
Conor Coughlan was the top point scorer for Ireland in the tournament with a tally of 53 points, just 2 more than Jack Mangan with the two men finishing 10th and 11th overall on the scoring charts. Coughlan went on to be named on the All Star team from the event.
European Para Youth Games Team Ireland Results
Team Ireland Wheelchair Basketball
Ireland 22:75 Netherlands
Ireland 32:63 Portugal
Ireland 37:92 Italy
Ireland 50:29 Finland
Ireland 47:60 Portugal *Bronze Medal Match
Team Ireland Squad: Conor Coughlan, Jack Mangan, Adam Drummond, Darragh O’Regan, Jodie Waite, Sean McCullagh, Dean McCarthy, Jack Quinn
Team Ireland Para Table Tennis
Pablo Jacobsen (Nor) 3-1 Jude Sheldon
Hamza Taleb (Bel) 3-0 Jude Sheldon
Marcin Zielinski (Pol) 3-0 Sean Geoghegan
Mirko Bruschi (Ita) 3-1 Sean Geoghegan