Ireland’s opening World Cup fixture against the world number 1 side Australia proved an entertaining affair throughout. Inside the opening minute Australia broke into the circle but the towering Conor Harte was on hand to intercept the effort in front of goal. Jonny Bell created Ireland’s first real chance as he charged out of defence and fired a reverse pass into the circle where both Sean Murray and Matthew Nelson saw their shots draw superb close range saves from Andrew Charter. In the 10thminute Australia were awarded a stroke as David Harte’s save hit Paul Gleghorne on the line but a smart video referral saw the decision overturned as the ball was going wide of the goal and Australia were awarded a penalty corner instead. Blake Govers put his side in the lead with a trademark drag flick in the 11thminute. But it didn’t take long for the Green Machine to reply, Murray glided through the middle of the pitch to slip the ball to Shane O’Donogue who batted home from chest height to draw the game level in superb fashion. Harte was in fine form throughout as he made a great low glove save from Dylan Wotherspoon’s close range shot. Likewise, Ireland were keeping Charter busy at the other end as O’Donoghue forced a high glove save from his penalty corner drag flick. Australia upped the ante as the clock ticked towards half time but Harte and his defence were alert to the danger and went into half time with 44% of the possession against the world number 1.
Australia came out of the blocks firing in the second half and Tim Brand put them in front in the 33rdminute. Corey Weyer sent a pin point pass to the waiting Brand on the edge of the circle, Harte saved the first shot but Brand remained composed to fire the rebound into the net. O’Donoghue was again testing the Australian defence as he broke through to set Alan Sothern up in front of goal but the ball just slipped under his stick for the chance to go amiss. There remained very little between the two sides and Paul Gleghorne was on hand as ever to make several important tackles if the Australian forward line broke through. With 2 minutes to go, Harte was pulled from his goal and Gleghorne donned the kicking back jersey as the Green Machine threw everything at the Aussies but just couldn’t snatch the equaliser.
Speaking after the fixture, head coach Alexander Cox said “Our players put their bodies on the line for the result today, we always knew this was going to be a physical game against the world number 1 team. It wasn’t the result we wanted but I’m very proud of the whole team, we gave it our all and were in the game until the final whistle.”
Ireland’s next match of the Odisha World Cup is on Tuesday (December 4th) at 7pm IST/1:30PM GMT.
Starting: D Harte (captain), J Bell, C Cargo, M Nelson, E Magee, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, M Darling, P Gleghorne, C Harte, S Loughrey
Subs: M Bell, A Sothern, K Shimmins, M Robson, D Fitzgerald, D Walsh, L Cole