The fancied Cork outfit started brightly and controlled the game for lengthy periods, but two second-half defensive errors cost them and undermined their bid to regain ‘A’ status for Instonians, the Irish qualifier for next year’s event.
Manager Dermot Judge said: “This was not the start we wanted or anticipated.”
But he added they still had two games left to redeem the situation.
“We targeted the Ukrainians as being probably the weakest team in our group, but we made some mistake and that cost us,” he said.
Irish international David Hobbs made it to Prague in time for the game. He had been unable to travel with the main party and arrived in the Czech capital yesterday.
His influence was felt in the early stages and he won the short corner from which they opened the scoring in the 15th minute. Ali Dunne’s flick was saved by the Ukraine’s goalie, but Philip Smith scored from the rebound.
The Cork side looked to have plenty in hand, with Hobbs and Karl Burns controlling the game.
However, the Ukrainians came back in the 26th minute to level with a fine diving effort from a cross.
The half-time score was 1-1, but two minutes into the second period the Ukrainians scored again and this time the Irish side only had themselves to blame.
The defence failed to clear a ball in their own circle and the Ukrainians took advantage. Fifteen minutes later and another defensive error let the Eastern Europeans in again and, on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline, Church of Ireland were struggling.
They applied pressure for the rest of the game and were unlucky not to get a penalty stroke after Ali Dunne was taken out by the Vinnitsa goalie.
They got a goal back with three minutes left when Ken Twomey scored from a rebound, but the final result leaves them struggling.
In the other Pool B game, the home side Slavia Praha beat Italians SG Amsicora 8-2. Church of Ireland play the Czechs this afternoon and it’s expected that John Jermyn, delayed in Ireland, will be in Prague for the game.
Meanwhile, the Irish Hockey Association announced yesterday that David Scott has been appointed men’s senior coach for the Celtic Cup, at the National Hockey Stadium at Belfield from June 25-27, and for the international matches against Belgium in Belgium in July. The temporary appointment of Scott, who is the Ulster coaches’ co-ordinator, will allow time to find a successor to John Clarke, who recently stood down.