Ireland beat England to qualify for CP World Championships
Ireland 3 England 2
The Catalan town of Sant Cugat Del Vallés might not be the most popular Spanish destination for Irish tourists but, situated just north of Barcelona, it will always be dear to the hearts of the country's cerebral palsy football contingent for a long time to come.
Paul Cassin and his band of merry men needed a draw against England to secure a place in the final eight of the CPISRA Intercontinental Cup and in the process, qualify for the World Championships.
They went one step better but had to do it the hard way, falling behind to the auld enemy mid-way through the opening half before equalising through Tom Badun just prior to the half-time whistle.
The second half was a nip-and-tuck affair before Daragh Snell eased the tension for his team with a clinical finish to ensure that the final couple of minutes could be enjoyed by the Boys in Green.
They actually got off to the perfect start as one of their marquee players, Gary Messett opened his account for the tournament in the very first minute.
England are a much improved outfit in the past year though and indicated their qualities as they gained a foothold on proceedings courtesy of a Jack Rutter brace.
Ireland might have been forgiven for having a bit of a wobble at this juncture, but they retained their composure, continued to chip away at their opponents and crucially got their reward in the 29th minute.
It was a really good time for 16-year-old Tom Badun to get the score – also his first of the tournament. As the second half wore on, England's attempts became more and more desperate as they needed a win to progress given Ireland's superior goal difference.
In the end, it was Cassin's crew that took all the points, as Snell made no mistake almost on the hour to ensure that the celebrations could begin. As runners-up in Group B to World and Paralympic champions Russia, they now play Netherlands, who won all three of their games in Group A.
With the target for the tournament achieved, Ireland are in bonus territory now. Cassin was ecstatic with the character shown by his young squad.
"I am very proud of the boys to come back from 2-1 down against a very strong England team" said Cassin afterwards. "The pressure is off now as we have qualified for the World Championships and we're looking forward to the Dutch game now."
Ireland: S Le Strange, J Markey, L Evans, D Snell, T Badun, D Byrne, G Messett. Substitute: D Sheridan.
England: G Fletcher, M Sinclair, T Smith, R Emyle, J Rutter, M Barker, K Townshend. Substitutes: O Nugent, H Baker
Sunday, August 4
Ireland v Netherlands
Wednesday-Thursday, August 7-8
Friday-Saturday, August 9-10