By Nick Butler

Ireland v Ukraine footballAugust 7 - London 2012 seven-a-side football runners-up Ukraine swept aside Ireland in the semi-finals of the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CPISRA) Intercontinental Cup in Barcelona to set up a final against either Brazil or reigning Paralympic champions Russia.

Just 18 months after failing to qualify for London 2012 Ireland put in a valiant display in reaching the semi-finals after beating England and Venezuela in the group stage before a narrow 3-2 victory over the Netherlands in the quarter-finals.

These exertions did however eventually take their toll against the fully professional Ukrainian team who took the lead through the competitions top scorer Oleksandr Devlysh in the 18th minute and never looked back.

Devlysh eventually scored a hat-rick to take his overall tally for the tournament to nine, while both Vitalii Romanchuk and Taras Dutko netted twice and Denys Ponomaryov and Vitali Romanchuk scored once apiece after each coming off the replacements bench.
Although Ireland defended resolutely and had a good shape throughout the match, the Ukrainans were simply stronger in every area, combining their dominant possession with a formidable defence.

Ireland coach Paul Cassin could do nothing but praise the victors after the match:

"As long as the Russians and Ukraine play in a professional league we will always be playing catch-up," he said

"But this has been a brilliant tournament and with such a young squad, we have plenty to build on, especially as we achieved our target of qualifying for the World Championships."

Ukraine will now play the winners of tomorrow's clash between Russia and Brazil and they will be looking forward to the possible opportunity to avenge their narrow 1-0 defeat in the London 2012 final last September.

Brazil will also be looking for revenge over the Russians as they lost 3-1 to them at the same semi-final stage in London. 

Elsewhere, Argentina and the Netherlands will meet in the fifth place playoff final after the Argentineans beat Scotland 6-3 and the Dutch beat the United States 6-4.

In the matches to rank positions nine to 16, England, Canada, Portugal and Northern Ireland will battle it out for the top four spots after each winning their latest encounters.

The final is due to take place at the ZEM Jaume Tubau stadium in Barcelona on Saturday (August 10).