|November 27th, 2012|
|11||Pool B||1:30pm||IRL - RSA||3 - 1 (1 - 1)||Final|
Ireland beat South Africa to finish 3rd in Pool B
Ireland ended their Pool B campaign in winning fashion with a hard earned 3-1 victory over South Africa. Goals from Andrew McConnell, John Jermyn and Conor Harte proved to be enough to give the Green Machine their first victory at the Argentina Hockey Men’s Champions Challenge 1. The result means that Ireland finish third in Pool B and will play Poland in the Quarter Finals, with fourth placed South Africa facing a tough match against Pool A winners Malaysia.
The first half was a largely scrappy affair, with both teams struggling to find any consistency. Ireland took the lead eight minutes into the match when Andrew McConnell fired home from open play, but South Africa grabbed an equaliser in the 13th minute thanks to a field goal from Miguel da Graca. Ireland’s McConnell had a glorious opportunity to give his side the lead in the dying moments of the first half when a scything move ripped through the South African defence, but the midfielder failed to hit the target with only the goalkeeper to beat, much to the frustration of team coach Andrew Meredith.
Ireland moved into a 2-1 lead seven minutes into the second half thanks to a slick penalty corner variation, with John Jermyn applying the finishing touch with an accurate flick past South Africa keeper Michael Smith. The South Africans stepped up their game immediately following the goal, with striker Lloyd Norris-Jones in particular looking lively, but solid Irish defending ensured that the Green Machine stayed ahead in the scoring before delivering what proved to be the killer blow in the 62nd minute. A goal-mouth scramble in the South African circle resulted in an Irish penalty corner which was expertly dispatched by Conor Harte, sending a low effort into the bottom right corner of the goal to give Ireland all three points.
Gregg Clark (RSA Coach)
“We are disappointed with today’s match. Our performance was below the one I expected. We all know that we have to improve, and the next match is the most important one. We made a lot of mistakes, we were not mentally focused on the match and we have to work on it. Our next rival is Malaysia and they are on the top of the pool. It is a speedy team, and on Thursday we will make the match as difficult as possible for them.”
Ronan Gormley (IRL Captain)
“I think we improved our performance from the last game. We’ve been doing this since the first match and we have more improvements to make. Our next match is against Poland and we know they have many experienced players.”
Andrew Meredith (IRL Coach)
“This victory is a good result for us, and this comes from the hard work that the players put in. I’m very happy now, but we have to continue improving in this process as we move forward in this tournament.”
“Poland traditionally is a good defensive team, but at this stage in the tournament, my primary goal is to focus on our style of play and continue improving in the defensive and offensive area.”