Denmark & Ireland victorious in opening of European Championship
by Lauri Jaakkola
Denmark took an impressive 56–48 victory against Germany in the opening match of the 2015 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby European Championship in Pajulahti, Finland.
Denmark took an early five goal lead in the match and kept it for the rest of the match without any bigger difficulties. Denmark proved to be one of the gold medal contesters of the tournament.
– The first match of the tournament is never easy, but we got a good start and got ahead. So it was quite comfortable for us at the end, said Jon Anker Johanneson of the Danish team.
Denmark was the second best European team behind Great Britain in the 2014 World Championship and finished second behind Sweden in the 2013 European Championship. So they won’t be far from reaching the final and a slot for Rio Paralympics in Pajulahti.
– Reaching Rio is our aim, but we still have a long way ahead of us. I think Great Britain and Sweden are our strongest opponents, Johanneson told.
Denmark meets home team Finland on Wednesday
– Last time we met Finland, they didn’t have Leevi Ylönen with them and he is really important player for Finland. So we don’t know exactly what to expect, Johanneson said.
Ireland beat Finland with a one goal margin
Home team Finland suffered a bitter 60–61 defeat against Ireland in the Pool B match of the European Championship. A loss in the opening match makes it much more difficult for Finland to reach the semifinals.
– It got hard. I think it’s a part of the Finnish mentality to take some hits first before we get our game on track, said Mauri Vironmäki of Finnish team.
Finland had a five goal lead in the second quarter and another three goal lead in the final quarter, but in the end it was Irish team that celebrated victory.
Young Thomas Moylan was pivotal for Ireland scoring 45 goals. Leevi Ylönen got 38 goals for Finland.
– Stupid passing errors were the reason for our loss. But Ireland was really good, and we knew they would be, Vironmäki told.
Ireland got promoted to the A Division European Championship after finishing second in the B Division.
Finland were missing two players, Toni Lehtinen and Jukka Parviainen, who had both broke a finger before the tournament. Especially the absence of Parviainen is a big hit for home team’s chances.
All the teams on fire on Wednesday
Pool A – including Great Britain, Sweden, France and Belgium – starts on Wednesday. Belgium and France meet each other in the first match of the morning. After that the reigning European Champion Sweden meets Belgium and current best European team in the World Ranking Great Britain plays against France.
On pool B Ireland have a chance to move a step closer to the semifinals when they meet Germany. Denmark can do the same against Finland.
Visit The European Championship website at www.wrec2015.fi.