Hockey: McConnell gets Ireland off mark
Published 28/11/2012 | 05:00
Ireland raised their game to post their first win of the Champions Challenge in Buenos Aires, beating South Africa 3-1.
The result means that they avoid form side Malaysia, commanded by their former coach Paul Revington, as the tournament moves into the knockout phase.
Instead they must now meet Poland in tomorrow's quarter-final after the Eastern Europeans sprang a surprise on fancied Korea, winning 5-4.
The goal drought that blighted Ireland so wretchedly against Japan on Sunday was lifted after just seven minutes yesterday as midfielder Andy McConnell ghosted up to meet Shane O'Donoghue's cross and beat Michael Smith at the 'keeper's right-hand post.
However, the good was taken out of this breakthrough within five minutes as Miguel da Silva responded with a similar effort to equalise in a game of few chances.
Ireland regained the lead four minutes after the break with John Jermyn popping the ball high over Smith at a penalty corner and into the net. Andrew Meredith's side effectively muzzled their opponents, with Bruce McCandless defending superbly.
The outcome was put beyond doubt just after the hour mark. Timmy Cockram's shot was saved, but the Irish won a penalty in the melee on the rebound and Conor Harte converted.