Narrow defeat for Irish deaf team

Narrow defeat for Irish deaf team

The Ireland Men's Deaf soccer team exited the European Championships at the quarter-final stage after losing to Great Britain 4-2 after extra time.
6th Jul 2011

The Ireland Men's Deaf soccer team exited the European Championships at the quarter-final stage after losing to Great Britain 4-2 after extra time.

Two excellent goals from Brian Babb, some stunning saves from Michael Walsh and heroic defending from a patched up Irish defence proved in vain as Great Britain ultimately recorded a deserved victory.

The match began at a fast tempo with some good quality football. Mark Sinclair had the first chance for Ireland but his eight minute shot was blocked whilst Eamon Byrne saw a well struck shot drift wide moments later.

At the other end Great Britain had a chance of their own but their centre forward headed over when well placed. The game continued to be evenly contested until the 25th minute when Ireland struck the first blow. Good work from Stuart Foy and Byrne sent Babb clear and he cut in from the left touchline before delicately chipping the advancing keeper for a superb goal.

Both teams had chances in the remaining minutes of the first half with some good play by Andrew Wynne and Joe Watson as Ireland threatened.

After the interval and Ireland suffered a blow when Stuart Foy was forced off with injury with Sean Young entering fray. Keeper' Walsh saved well on the restart, whilst Babb had a decent penalty appeal waved away on 53 minute. The young striker did double his tally however on 59 minute when he pounced on a defensive mix-up to fire home another fine 20 yard shot into the bottom corner for Ireland's second goal.

The game's biggest turning point soon followed however. Irish defender Roy McKee made a confident tackle inside his own six yard box but to everyone's amazement the referee pointed to the penalty spot. The kick was duly converted and at 2-1 GB was back in the game. Ireland was also suffering an injury crisis at this stage. Sinclair hobbled off with a leg injury and five other players were walking wounded.

GB exerted some pressure and the equalizer followed in the 74th minute although most observers felt the goal was well offside. Ireland did hold out for extra time and indeed had a golden chance to win the game in the final minute but Daly's shot was blocked from Wynne's great cross.

GB were dominant in extra time as the Irish lads were out on their feet. Two early goals settled the contest but Ireland to their credit kept plugging away and had late chances through Watson and Sean Young.

The overworked Walsh had a superb game. Richard Dougherty, McKee and Foy gave heroic performances whilst playing through the pain barrier, Bobby McAra also emerging with credit.

The Irish midfield of Byrne, Wynne, Watson and Dunne all worked hard with Sinclair also doing well before retiring injured. Babb gave another sparkling performance taking his goals with supreme confidence. Substitutes Young, Daly and Burns also had good moments when introduced.