The Heineken Sunday League World Cup was full of thrills and spills at the weekend as it replicated the real action that was unfolding in Brazil.
Honduras, who were coming off a fantastic result in their opening group stage match the previous weekend, wanted to continue their good form against an Ireland side full of endeavor and enthusiasm.
Honduras made the brighter start at the TE McField Annex but once the Irish found their rhythm, they posed the greater threat.
Ireland took the lead when their captain Padraig Brosnan got his head to the ball just before the keeper, to bravely knock a deflected cross home.
Despite scoring five times against Italy in their first match, Honduras struggled in the first half, partly because they took Ireland too lightly.
After the break Honduras showed more urgency and crafted an excellent opening which resulted in Luis Antonio Medina equalizing.
Ireland had the perfect riposte, retaking the lead when Colm Flanagan held off his marker to head home a back post corner.
Then Ireland produced the move of the game with a sweeping attack which started on the edge of their own box and finished up in the Honduran net via an Eddie Arthurs shot to make it 3-1.
Honduras forced forward and Medina sprinted through to finish with aplomb to claim his second.
With 20 minutes to play, Honduras still had time to find an equalizer, but in the sweltering morning sun, Ireland managed to hold on.
Brosnan admitted after that Honduras started favorites following the previous week’s results but felt they redeemed themselves.
“We had something to prove to ourselves and everybody else that we have a decent team,” he said. “We got off to a good start but conceded a sloppy goal. Once we went 3-1 up I think we were comfortable and they put us under pressure towards the end, but obviously very happy to win.”
Brosnan added that the previous week was the Gaelic football final the day before their game against Jamaica so injury and fatigue were contributing factors to their under-par performance.
“We just asked lads who play Gaelic football to come down,” Brosnan said. “There are a good few other Irish soccer players with Sunset Football Club but we can’t play them because they play in the Premier League. But this is still a good collection of lads and everyone’s happy to pull on the Irish shirt.”
The Group A match between Cayman and Canada was highly anticipated after both teams won in their opening group matches.
Canada dominated the opening stages as they pinned Cayman back into their half, but against the run of play Cayman snatched the opening goal and it was a fantastic strike by James Ebanks from the edge of the box. Cayman’s lead lasted a mere three minutes after Mike Hall’s tenacity was rewarded when he got his head to a cross for the equalizer.
The high temperatures were making it increasingly difficult for the teams to play with any tempo, but it didn’t prevent chances being created at both ends.
It was looking increasingly like it would take something special to win the game and it duly arrived from a spectacular free kick from the edge of the Canadian box from Ebanks for Cayman to win 2-1.
At Ed Bush in West Bay, Jamaica had a comprehensive win against Italy. The Italian defence had no answer to the Jamaican attack that, after scoring four goals last weekend, went even better this week to win 6-0. Once again, Kiegel “Stamma” Atkinson was their main threat, scoring an excellent hat-trick with Gavin Reynolds, Raggilow Blake and Errol Ricketts also finding the net.
The Group A match between England and India at Ed Bush was a tight affair that could have been won by either side, but England had the better finishers with a 2-1 win.
On balance, this was rough justice on spirited India team who deserved to take at least something from the game.
All the goals came in the first-half with England’s Steve Lovell delicately lobbing the keeper to open the scoring.
Then Will Collins put England two up with what he might claim was a shot – but appeared more like a cross – that got caught in the wind and sailed in at the back post. India hit back right on the stroke of half-time through Savio Corneiro after good pressure resulted in India stealing possession.
In the second-half India, who had the wind at their backs, looked like they would score an equalizer but were thwarted by Connolly in the English goal several times and by a goal-line clearance right on the stroke of full-time.
This was a crucial win for England and keeps alive their hopes of making it to final, but leaves India without a point.
The results from the games this weekend will decide who will make it through to the final with England facing Canada and Jamaica playing Honduras at the Annex while at Ed Bush Cayman play India and Italy clash with Ireland.