Ir­ish aim to learn from World Cup heart­break

Belfast Telegraph - - SPORT - BY GRA­HAM HAMILTON

SHANE O’Donoghue be­came Ire­land’s all-time record goalscorer at the World Cup fi­nals in In­dia yesterday but sadly there was lit­tle else to cel­e­brate as the Green Ma­chine made their exit from the com­pe­ti­tion.

Alexan­der Cox’s lads needed a draw against old ri­vals Eng­land in the fi­nal Pool B game in Bhubaneswar but de­spite giv­ing it a real go, they lost on a 4-2 score­line which was slightly flat­ter­ing for the op­po­si­tion.

In the end it was their fail­ure to con­vert all their possession against China last week which came back to haunt them, and it’s sick­en­ing to see that the Asian side go into the crossovers af­ter a 11-0 maul­ing against world cham­pi­ons Aus­tralia, the team that the Ir­ish only lost to 2-1.

That, though, is the na­ture of the sport, and the man­age­ment and play­ers will feel that all the ef­fort and prepa­ra­tion that went into get­ting to the world stage for the first time in 28 years was well worth it, as they never looked out of their depth in any of the three pool games.

Nat­u­rally there was ma­jor dis­ap­point­ment that they didn’t achieve their first tar­get of reach­ing the play-offs to be able to build on the Ir­ish women’s sil­ver medal suc­cess at their World fi­nals.

Yes, the dream may be over, but for the play­ers it was bet­ter to have lived the dream than not to have been in­volved at all.

“This is painful, you never get used to los­ing,” said coach Cox. “I wasn’t happy with the first quar­ter as we were on the back-foot but in the sec­ond half we turned it around and gave it our all.

“In ev­ery game this tour­na­ment we had an op­por­tu­nity to get a re­sult but we weren’t clin­i­cal enough.

“I’m proud of the play­ers, though, and how they con­ducted them­selves. We’ll just have to make sure the next time we are on the other end of the re­sult.”

Twice Eng­land took the lead and twice the Ir­ish hit back but Eng­land got the cru­cial third goal and then a fourth with the last touch of the game, a penalty cor­ner con­ver­sion.

This came as the Ir­ish had no keeper to de­fend the award as they had sub­sti­tuted David Harte for an ex­tra out­field player in a des­per­ate at­tempt to force an equaliser.

That goal came from Mark Gleghorne, one of three Ul­ster­men who pre­vi­ously played for Ire­land but are now reg­u­lars in the English line-up.

Eng­land’s open­ing goal came just sec­onds be­fore the end of the first quar­ter, with David Con­don the marks­man, al­though it seemed um­pires missed a foul in the build-up.

Ian Sloan fired over the cross­bar when well placed as Eng­land held a slight edge up to half-time but then the game came to life with four goals in the space of four min­utes.

Ire­land’s equaliser came from Ul­ster­man Chris Cargo who got the fi­nal touch af­ter good work from Sean Mur­ray (above) and O’Donoghue in the 35th minute, but Eng­land quickly re­stored their lead when a Liam Ansell tom­a­hawk flashed past Harte.

Back came the Ir­ish and O’Donoghue lev­elled the match again within 60 sec­onds from a penalty cor­ner to take his in­ter­na­tional goals tally to 93, one ahead of pre­vi­ous leader John Jermyn.

But again Eng­land re­sponded promptly and James Gall got a de­flec­tion to make it 3-2.

The Ir­ish tried hard to square mat­ters again but Alan Soth­ern had a penalty cor­ner well saved by Eng­land goal­keeper Ge­orge Pin­ner, with Cargo’s snatched ef­fort from the re­bound go­ing over the cross­bar.

With four min­utes left, Cox took off his keeper but with only four sec­onds re­main­ing on the clock Eng­land won a penalty cor­ner and it was easy for Gleghorne to con­vert it with no keeper there to make a save.

And so Eng­land go through as pool run­ners-up and will face New Zealand in the play-offs on Mon­day, as will the two low­est ranked teams in the tour­na­ment, France and China.

World Cup fi­nals (In­dia): Pool B: Aus­tralia 11 (B Govers 3, T Brand 2, A Zalewski, T Craig, J Hay­ward, J Whet­ton, D Wother­spoon, F Ogilvie) China 0; Ire­land 2 (C Cargo, S O’Donoghue) Eng­land 4 (D Con­don, L Ansell, J Gall, M Gleghorne).

To­day: Pool C: Bel­gium v South Africa (11.30am); Canada v In­dia (1.30pm). To­mor­row: Pool D: Malaysia v Ger­many (11.30am); Nether­lands v Pak­istan (1.30pm).

Joy and de­spair: Eng­land scorer Liam Ansell takes on Ire­land and (in­set) Chris Cargo cel­e­brates his goal

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