Will Ireland (in green) join Argentina at the London 2012 Olympic Games?
(Photo: FIH / Sandra Harik)
Ireland have registered an impressive 4-1 victory over Argentina in their third match of the INSEP Hockey Challenge, in Paris, adding to their upset win over South Korea earlier in the week. Ireland now sit on the top of the table, with one game to play.
Argentina, ranked 11 in the World, would have been rightly pleased with their narrow win yesterday over World Champions Australia, but had to take a little of their own giantkilling medicine at the hands of well drilled Ireland line up.
Ireland opened this match as they did in their victory over South Korea on Tuesday – with two early goals. Just four minutes into the game, Michael Watt capitalised on a counter attack with a powerful strike from the top of the circle and, four minutes later, John Jermyn converted a penalty stroke, awarded after an Irish forward had been fouled in the act of shooting.
Argentina tried to work their way back into the game, but the South Americans could not muster the same solid defence and slick forward play that had seen them look so strong against the Australians just 24 hours earlier. They failed to convert their chances and continued to give the hard working Irish opportunities to score, until, in the 28th minute, Ireland’s Tim Cockram found some space in the circle and slammed home a reverse shot, to put his team 3 – 0 up.
Argentina was a better side after the break, and started to build some possession in attack and pressure on the Irish defence, led by the experienced Lucas Rossi and Lucas Rey in the midfield. Strong goalkeeping from Ireland’s David Harte kept the South Americans at bay, but mid way through the second period Argentina were awarded a penalty stroke after an Irish breach on a penalty corner rebound. Pedro Ibara converted from the spot to close the gap at 3 - 1.
However, despite some sustained attacking hockey for the remainder of the match, the Argentinians were unable to add to that solitary goal, and it was in fact Ireland who added the final goal of the match when Watt got his second from a dying seconds breakaway after the Argentinians had overextended into attack.
Senior Irish player Geoff McCabe, who was rested for this fixture, said that it had not been an easy game. “We expected a tough match. The first half was OK. We had a strong defence. But in the second half we let them back in,” he said. Despite McCabe’s modesty, with victories over two teams in the World’s top 12, surely the Irish must now fancy their chances for success against Europe’s best teams at the at the European Nations Championships in August.
Argentina coach Pablo Lombi gave credit to the Irish. “Ireland is a very good team. They have a good structure and a good strategy. Their defence was quite good, and they took all of their opportunities on counter attack. We did not succeed in blocking these attacks,” said Lombi.
Ireland next take on host nation France at 17h30 on Saturday. In the other game, at 15h00, Australia play Korea.Table after day 4
IRL 6pts (+1)
ARG 6pts (- 2)
AUS 3pts (+1)
KOR 3pts (-1)
FRA 0pts (-4)Fédération Française de Hockey media release