Ireland 1 (S O’Donoghue) France 1 (V Charlet), Ireland win shoot-out 4-2
Ireland added Hockey World League Round 2 gold on Sunday evening to their all-important ticket to the next phase of the competition with a 4-2 shoot-out win over France at Stormont. While David Harte picked up GK of the Tournament and Jonny McKee was named Best Young Player of the Tournament.
The primary objective for the week was achieved on Saturday with a hugely impressive 3-1 win over Wales, ensuring Ireland finished in the top three with goals from Shane O’Donoghue, Ben Walker and the irrepressible Neal Glassey.
That ensures they go forward to World League Round 3 where the 2018 World Cup places will be decided.And they followed up with the tournament win, putting another feather in the cap of a very young side.
The first half of the final was a subdued affair with flowing hockey at a premium. France earned a couple of penalty corners that David Harte kept out while his counterpart Arthur Thieffry did likewise, keeping out shots from Shane O’Donoghue and Jonny McKee.
With the half petering out, France won their third corner and Victor Charlet rammed home the opening goal with a low bullet down the middle.
The third quarter provided more of the same before Ireland stirred in a big way in the closing quarter, rattling the French who were reduced to nine men for various indiscretions.
During that time, Gormley won Ireland’s only corner which Shane O’Donoghue nailed for 1-1 with eight minutes to go. Jonny McKee and Lee Cole then both stung the palms of Arthut Thieffry in a rousing finale.
In the shoot-out Conor Harte, Eugene Magee, Cole and McKee all scored while David Harte’s pair of saves ensured victory.
For coach Craig Fulton, it was hugely satisfying in seeing a much-changed squad prevail with eight tournament debutants while he had to cope with the injuries to John Jermyn and Chris Cargo late in the day.It meant numerous new faces but coach Craig Fulton was quick to praise the squad for building game on game to produce ever-improved performances.
“They are the future of Irish hockey,” Fulton said of the new faces. “We want to blood them and there’s no better place than a tournament like this with the quarters, semis and final. They now have that experience.
“We played five games with 15 guys [due to the injuries]; that’s not normal for a squad. The team environment has been building and is something that is very strong with these guys.
“Anyone coming into the group feels it. We have a world class staff; there’s a lot of things going on behind the scenes that make this team tick and a huge amount of work.”
Fulton added that the discipline of his side was crucial, keeping their heads while France lost theirs in the final quarter: “Our discipline has been very good this tournament and is something we worked on to improve for key moments. It worked today.
“It was a good battle; France played really well, controlled the ball nicely but I knew if we could get our press going, we could put pressure on them.
“It was a tough game. The last 20 minutes, the intensity started to liven up. We knew we would create something and the last quarter turned in our favour when they got the two green cards and the yellow which opened the gate for us.”
The tournament also featured a new captain with Jonathan Bell shining whilst donning the armband.
Looking back on the competition, he said that taking on the new role was made easy by the players around him.
“I really enjoyed it. The guys aren’t difficult to lead because they are all self-motivated and self-driven guys. It’s just about creating an environment and a culture for the young guys to thrive.
“Ireland are ranked 10th in the world now and that brings expectation. You may have younger players coming in but you are playing for the Irish men’s team which brings a level of performance and we got that. Regardless of the age group, you expect a performance from an Irish senior men’s team and that’s what we got from them.”
Ireland will next play at World League Round 3 in South Africa in July before contesting the European Championships in August in Amsterdam.
Ireland: D Harte, J Bell, M Bell, R Gormley, E Magee, N Glassey, S O’Donoghue, J McKee, P Gleghorne, C Harte, J Duncan
Subs: B Walker, M Nelson, S Murray, L Cole, J Wright
France: A Thieffry, P van Straaten, J-L Kieffer, T Genestet, H Genestet, S Martin-Brisac, V Lockwood, C Masson, G Deront, J-B Forgues, V Charlet
Subs: C Peters-Deutz, B Rogeau, N Dumont, G Baumgarten, F Goyet, E Tynevez, C Saunier
Third place playoff:
Scotland 4 (W Adams 2, G Byers, B Cosgrove) Wales 0
A series of Scotland penalty corners saw them get the better of their Celtic rivals Wales 4-0 to claim third place for their efforts from Hockey World League Round 2 in Belfast.
Wei Adams was the man to power home a double as they looked the side in the box seat for the vast majority of the tie though they took their time to fully kill off the result.
Alan Forsyth had a couple of near misses in the opening quarter with David Kettle proving his nemesis on a number of occasions. They did take the lead in the 23rd minute when a powerful, low Adams drag-flick that broke the Welsh defences from their fourth corner.
It stayed 1-0 until half-time and they continued to win corners in the second half. Lewis Prosser made a superb block to deny Gavin Byers from close range while Forsyth was blocked again.
The striker, though, did play a big role in extending the lead in the 42nd minute from yet another corner, beating two runners before the ball broke to Byers to flick into an open goal.
Wales pushed on and penned Scotland back for the early stages of the final quarter but found precious little space to work with in a crowded circle. William Marshall saved their best chance at the left post, deflecting away Gareth Furlong’s corner drag.
Scotland were always dangerous on the counter in this phase and when they won another corner, Adams killed off the tie with another drag-flick. Ben Cosgrove added an extra gloss into an empty net after Wales withdrew their goalkeeper, leading to the 4-0 result.
5th-8th Place Matches:
Austria held off a concerted Poland fightback late in the game to claim fifth place in Stormont, prevailing 2-1 thanks to two goals from Michael Korper.
The Harvestehuder striker scored his seventh goal of the tournament in the third minute, sliding in at the back post. Two goals followed in the space of the 18th minute with Mateusz Hulboj equalising for Poland only for Korper to reply immediately for 2-1.
Both sides had their chances to add their totals with goalkeeper Mateusz Popiolkowski saving well from Benjamin Stanzl while Poland saw a couple of chances slip by.
Austria, though, were able to run down the last few minutes in their own corner to secure their third win of the competition and fifth place.
Italy finished seventh as they got the best of an early barrage of goals against Ukraine to run out 4-2 winners. Andrii Koshelenko gave Ukraine an early lead from a corner before Thomas Keenan levelled in the same minute.
Keenan added his fourth goal of the tournament for 2-1 only for Maksym Onofriiuk to tie things again, once again from a corner. Gonzalo Ursone’s field goal – the only one of the day – made it 3-2 in the 15th minute. Julien Dallons added a fourth Italian goal in the 23rd minute to complete the scoring. Italy held more of the play from there on but did not require further goals to augment their win.