Wednesday 22 November 2017

Hockey: Argentina wary of improved Ireland

David Medcalf

After Luca Vila lobbed Canadian 'keeper David Martin on Thursday, his exquisite strike earned the Argentinian striker a standing ovation from the Buenos Aires crowd at the Champions Challenge.

Vila's coach Franco Nicola described the precision finish as the 'perfect goal' but he knows that his rampaging frontmen won't be given similar room to express themselves in today's semi-final against Ireland (8.0pm).

Like their hosts, the Irish too had four to spare in their quarter-final as they kept a commendable clean sheet against Poland.

"It won't be the same against Ireland," said Nicola. "It is very difficult for us."

However, he has another ace up his sleeve in the lethal penalty-corner flicks of Gonzalo Peillat, if the Irish should concede the set-pieces that would give him the openings.

Peillat beat 'keeper Davy Harte twice on the opening day of the tournament in a match which the hosts won 4-3, but Ireland's form has improved considerably since then.

This evening's match will mark the 150th Ireland appearance for Timmy Cockram. The Lisnagarvey forward joins John Jermyn, Eugene Magee and captain Ronan Gormley in passing the milestone.

Meanwhile, Irish umpire Geoff Conn has been assigned to the Malaysia versus Korea semi-final in the other half of the draw.

Either nation will make intriguing opposition tomorrow, whether gold or merely bronze is at stake.

The Malaysians are coached by Paul Revington, recently departed from the Irish job, while Korea are the side that denied Ireland a place at the London Olympics.

Irish Independent

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