Ireland miss leading trio as Belarus ease ahead
THE absence of James McGee, Louk Sorensen and Sam Barry was sorely felt as Ireland were left facing a 2-0 deficit after the opening two singles contests in the Davis Cup tie against Belarus in Minsk.
Minus the top three ranked players in the country, Garry Cahill's charges were always going to struggle in the first round Europe-Africa Zone Group 2, first round clash.
Slim hopes that Mayo man Daniel Glancy would build on his win in his debut match against Finland's Micke Kontinen at Castleknock last April were emphatically dashed as Dzmitry Zhyrmont romped to a 6-2 6-4 6-2 success.
With Glancy trailing 409 places – 723 to 314 – in the singles world rankings behind the Belarussian No 2, it was always going to be a mountain to climb for the 25-year-old Castlebar native.
And the East European outfit maintained their 100pc record when their top player, Egor Gerasimov, dismantled the challenge of debutant John Morrissey on a 6-4 6-1 6-2 scoreline in the second singles battle.
With three matches remaining, Belarus have only to come up trumps in today's doubles encounter to clinch a second-round tie against Egypt or Moldova in April, leaving Ireland to face a relegation play-off against the losers of the Egypt-Moldova clash.
With former doubles world No 1 Max Mirnyi – the only survivor on either team from the countries' only previous meeting at Dublin's Riverview in May 1997 – in their ranks, the host country are favourites to establish a 3-0 lead.
It's a boost for Ireland that doubles world No 152 James Cluskey is back for his first Davis Cup appearance since the July 2011 tie against Tunisia at Dublin's David Lloyd Riverview.
But the Swords man and debutant David O'Hare face a massive task against Mirnyi, a doubles quarter-finalist in last month's Australian Open and who has a remarkable 21 years of Davis Cup competition behind him, and Alexander Bury.