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Tuesday 07 May 2024
Powerchair development team take silver in Scotland

Northern Ireland’s Powerchair development squad produced some fine performances on their way to finishing runners-up in the European Powerchair Football Association Home Nations Cup.

SportScotland Inverclyde National Sport Training Centre was the venue for the international tournament in which Northern Ireland faced England, Scotland and Republic of Ireland.

The young Northern Ireland team were defeated by a classy England side in the final, however coach Michael Hilland was delighted with their performances at the weekend.

The Northern Ireland team featured Simon Lecky (GK), Daire Gorman, Reuben Walls, Kingston Bryars, Kyle Forster and Ellie Brown (captain).

They faced England in the opening game of the tournament, with Lecky, Walls and Forster making their international debuts starting alongside captain Ellie Brown.

A strong defensive display with big saves from Lecky had the sides go in level 0-0 at half-time.

Northern Ireland looked to carry a threat on the counter in the second half but England broke the deadlock with 10 minutes to go and went on to win 2-0.

Next up was a game against Scotland.

An unchanged Northern Ireland side started strongly, pushing the hosts back and creating good opportunities, forcing a number of smart saves from the Scotland keeper.

However, it was Scotland who managed to find the breakthrough just before half-time.

After the interval Northern Ireland came flying out of the traps in their search for an equaliser with a combination of Scottish defence and woodwork denying them.

With just over 10 minutes to play, substitute Gorman got on the end of a perfect corner from Forster, slamming the ball home to get his first international goal and bring Northern Ireland level.

Despite their best efforts, another goal eluded Northern Ireland and the game finished 1-1.

Hilland’s team met the Republic in the first game of day two. The side that finished the Scotland game were selected to start this one with Forster given the armband.

A brilliant first half display culminated in Forster and Gorman combining from a corner once again. Forster picked Gorman out on the edge of the box and he unleashed a powerful shot into the back of the net.

Northern Ireland had to defend resolutely in the second half before they extended their lead when Forster produced a tidy finish from a Walls pass to net his first international goal.

Gorman latched on to a stray pass to knock home his second of the game and then substitute Bryars grabbed a goal. He got on the end of another Forster delivery to slot the ball home.

Walls hit a fantastic free-kick for his first Northern Ireland goal – and that completed a resounding 5-0 victory.

The final played out much like the opening encounter in the tournament with a big defensive display from Northern Ireland nullifying England’s attack.

A couple of half-chances came on the counter for Northern Ireland but the ball wouldn’t sit kindly for them. And England’s quality eventually told as they ran out 3-0 winners.

Coach Michael Hilland said: “The Northern Ireland team can be proud of their performances throughout the tournament. They played with enthusiasm and belief and showed great heart, particularly for such a young squad. For half the squad it was their first taste of international football, so it was a learning experience for them as well.

“To come away with the runners-up (silver) medal is a good achievement for the team and is a testament to the hard work and dedication they have put in to the preparation.”

Northern Ireland’s senior Powerchair team will be in action at the SportScotland Inverclyde National Sport Training Centre soon as the Senior EPFA Home Nations Cup runs from 25-26 May.