Saturday 10 December 2016

'No shame in being beaten by a team like that'

Cathal Dennehy

Published 09/09/2016 | 02:30

Anne McGillivary, mother of Ireland's Brian McGillivary, left, and Laurna Nolan, mother of Ryan Nolan, show their support for the team ahead of the Ukraine game
Anne McGillivary, mother of Ireland's Brian McGillivary, left, and Laurna Nolan, mother of Ryan Nolan, show their support for the team ahead of the Ukraine game

Like shell missiles they arrived, one after another, raining in on Ireland's goal with barely enough time for goalkeeper Aaron Tier to even draw breath.

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The end result - and this should be seen as a positive - was that the damage was limited to six, Ireland's hopes of escaping this group not quite dead, but certainly on life support.

The opening game of the Paralympics for the seven-a-side team - a category limited to players with cerebral palsy - saw the Irish team take on Ukraine yesterday afternoon at the Deodoro Stadium and from the start, it proved a mismatch.

Ukraine moved the ball with speed and precision, the Irish defenders chasing their tails to hold their defensive shape.

The first strike landed in the 12th minute. Vitaliy Trushev loitered in splendid isolation on the end line - a result of the lack of offside rule in this category - and he duly threaded the ball home from a narrow angle.

Four minutes some slick passing, which happened all too quick for the Irish defence, left Ukraine's captain Volodymyr Antoniuk free to slot the ball home in casual fashion. From there the floodgates opened, with Ukraine finding the net in the 17th, 26th, 36th and 38th minute.

Afterwards, Irish coach Barry Ferguson was relieved that it wasn't more, and indeed there was solace to be taken in the way his side dug in and held Ukraine scoreless for the final 20 minutes.

"I thought we did really well in the second half because they wanted 10," said Ferguson.

"They're going to win the gold medal, so there's no shame in being beaten by a team like that. We have to put our hands up; they were better than us today."

Jason Smyth breezed through his qualification heat in the T13 100m last night, winning in 10.76 from Namibia's Johannes Nambala (10.81). The 29-year-old remains on course to win a third successive Paralympic 100m gold medal in this afternoon's final, which goes to the line at 3.09pm Irish time.

Meanwhile, James Scully finished sixth in the S5 200m FS final late last night, clocking 2:51.45 in a race which was won by Brazil's Daniel Dias in 2:27.88.

Irish Independent

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