Football

Clinical Ireland Take Major Step Towards Quarter-Finals At Cerebral Palsy World Championships

Clinical Ireland Take Major Step Towards Quarter-Finals At Cerebral Palsy World Championships

Victory against Portugal on Saturday will likely be sufficient for Ireland to progress to the quarter-finals of the Cerebral Palsy Football World Championships after a 4-1 win versus Australia on Thursday.

A place in the quarter-finals at this tournament should also be enough for them to secure qualification for next year's Paralympics in Rio de Janiero.

It was a game marked by Irish dominance of possession and, for the most part, resilient Australian defending.

Ireland took the lead in 9th minute when a long range effort from Gary Messet slipped through the hands of Aussie keeper Christopher Barty. It was Messett's second goal of the tournament. His first was a special strike in Tuesday's loss to group and overall favourites Russia.

The score remained 1-0 until ten minutes into the second half when another long range shot got the better of Barty. This time it was from Man of the Match, Dillon Sheridan.

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Despite dominance, there was a moment of worry for Ireland when Australia won and converted a penalty in the 48th minute.

They showed little evidence of inhibition though and continued to attack. Shortly after the Australian goal, Ireland were denied a spectacular third from Eric O'Flaherty.

A long ball forward found Jason Moran who chested down to O'Flaherty. Taking the ball on his left foot the first half substitute smashed it goalwards. The ball hit the bar and bounced down, certainly appearing to cross the line.

Despite shouts of goal from the Irish players, the referee would not budge.

Spurred on by that injustice, O'Flaherty had the ball in the net shortly after. He latched onto a pass over the top, took control and coolly finished to make it 3-1 to Ireland.

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The icing on the cake was Dillon Sheridan's second and his team's fourth. Cutting in from the right, Sheridan's lethal left foot gave Barty little chance.

Speaking after the win, Ireland team manager Barry Ferguson felt there was real pressure on his team going into the game.

We were under a bit of pressure today, with Australia getting the three points against Portugal.

Our game plan is always try our best to win, it doesn't matter how we do it.

Ireland now sit third in Group B, just behind Australia on goal difference and three points behind table toppers Russia.

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Picture credit: Magi Haroun / SPORTSFILE

Video via Cerebral Palsy Football World Championships

PJ Browne
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