Austria enjoyed the brighter start of the two sides and got the scoreboard ticking in the 5th minute. Dominic Uher strode down the right and into the circle, sending the ball towards the back post where Michael Korper was waiting for the sweep in from close range. Conor Harte and Matthew Bell were pulling the strings at the back and showing great vision to try break down the Austrian defence. The equaliser came courtesy of the two aforementioned as Harte found Bell in the corner who showed great skill along the baseline before pulling the ball back to Alan Sothern who slammed the ball home. Austria had the only penalty corner of the half but the mistrapped attempt didn’t trouble the Irish.
The Green Machine started the second half a lot stronger and controlled the game for large periods. Shane O’Donoghue gave Ireland the lead with an unstoppable drag flick high into the corner of Szymczyk’s goal. O’Donoghue had another PC chance minutes later but his effort was saved. Ireland had more opportunities to put the game to bed as both Matthew Nelson and Lee Cole sent their shots over the bar. Austria, needing a win to avoid relegation, elected for a kicking back and the tactic appeared to pay off as Korper somehow slipped the ball into the goal from a tight angle on the baseline. But it was too little too late for Austria and despite a last-minute flurry in front of goal Ireland ran out deserved victors and retain their place in European A Division.
Commenting after the match, coach Craig Fulton said “I thought overall on the day we were the better team. We were comfortable in the second half, I thought we could have scored 1 or 2 more but it was always close. Overall, we have huge strength in depth in our squad and with a year to go till the World Cup it’s the perfect place to be”.
Photo credit: World Sport Pics
Ireland: D Harte (Captain), M Bell, M Nelson, A Sothern, K Shimmins, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, M Robson, P Gleghorne, C Harte, S Loughrey
Subs: J Bell, J Jackson, N Glassey, B Walker, D Walsh, L Cole, M Ingram
Austria: D Uher, A Bele, B Schmidt, M Korper, D Frohlich, B Stanzl, F Steyrer, M Minar, L Thornblom, X Hasun (Captain), M Szymczyk
Subs: F Zeidler, S Eitenberger, P Schmidt, O Binder, F Unterkircher, P Stanzl, M Mantler