The Ireland Deaf Men’s football team produced a fantastic performance at the Deaflympic games in Sofia to defeat 2012 world champions Turkey 2-0 in their 5th-8th place play-off game.
Having been so unlucky to exit the quarter finals in extra time the Irish lads could have been forgiven for feeling subdued but instead they played with true passion and commitment to record a famous victory.
Ireland opened brightly dominating the early exchanges and playing great possession football. Central midfielders Joe Watson and Eoin Burns had already threatened with early chances before Richard Dougherty, Jason Maguire and Jonathan Cosgrave combined to set-up Mark Sinclair who lashed home an early goal at the near post in the 17th minute to put Ireland 1-0 ahead.
The remainder of the first half was a tight affair, the well organised Ireland team just shading it as Turkey found it difficult to create any openings of note.
Ireland began the second half on the front foot and surged into a 2-0 lead by the 60th minute with another outstanding goal from Sinclair. Cosgrave flicked on Noel O’Donnell’s long pass and Sinclair volleyed into the top corner from 25 yards to put Ireland 2-0 ahead.
The last 30 minutes belonged to Turkey as Ireland seemed content to sit on their lead. The defence of Roy Keating, Dougherty, Roy McKee, O’Donnell and Stuart Foy were fantastic, making a number of last ditch clearances to prevent Turkey from scoring.
Watson, Burns and Sean Young all worked tirelessly in midfield as did Maguire before being substituted after picking up an unlucky yellow card. Cosgrave also giving everything in a top notch performance.
McKee had a great chance to head a third for Ireland from Watson’s cross but narrowly missed the target. Brian Babb then came off the bench for the last half hour and his searing pace caused problems for the Turkey defence, Babb forcing a great save from the keeper after 80 minutes another a fine pass from Watson.
Andrew Wynne and Pat Maher also made important contributions from the bench as Ireland completed a thrilling 2-0 victory.
Assistant Manager Geoff Foy was proud of the Irish effort. “The lads showed real character and bounced back tremendously from the unlucky quarter final defeat”. He also paid tribute to the amazing Irish supporters both at home and in Bulgaria.
Ireland play their final match of the 2013 Deaflympics on Saturday (3.30pm kick-off Irish Time) as they battle Iran in the 5th/6th place play-offs.