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Ben Johnson flick secures draw as dominant Ireland are left frustrated

Ireland 1 Italy 1


Ireland's Ben Johnson on the attack against Italy. Photo: Adrian Boehm

Ireland's Ben Johnson on the attack against Italy. Photo: Adrian Boehm

Ireland's Ben Johnson on the attack against Italy. Photo: Adrian Boehm

Ben Johnson netted his first international goal, but the overall feeling was one of frustration as Ireland were unable to make the most of a plethora of chances in their closing Test match against Italy at Comber Road yesterday.

The Waterford native flicked in from the right of the D in the 40th minute to cancel out Manuel Mondo’s first-half drag-flick.

Mark Tumilty’s side subsequently laid siege to the visitors’ goal but could not find the crucial touch.

It means Ireland end the series with two wins and a draw from their weekend’s work, with four new caps lining out.

“Overall, pleased with the progress we have made,” Tumilty said of the series. It began with a late 2-1 win on Friday before Ireland cruised to a 3-0 win on Saturday, with two goals in the first five minutes.

“Friday was the one where we struggled, which we need to be wary of when it comes to opening games of tournaments. Saturday, I was pleased with how we started, but we need to maintain that. We grew into this one and getting that consistency is what we need to get at the minute.”



In the third tie, Ireland did start on the front foot, with Jeremy Duncan, Conor Empey and Johnson all forcing good saves from Francesco Mitrotta.

Italy, though, hit the front from their second attack in earnest in the 26th minute when Mondo whipped home a penalty corner.

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They held the lead to half-time, but the second half was one-way traffic. Italy offered minimal threat, often sitting with 11 men behind the ball, as Ireland piled on the pressure.

The breakthrough came when Callum Robson’s shot was blocked by Mitrotta into the path of Johnson, who scored his first international goal – in his second cap – with a composed flick.

The pattern continued through the final quarter as Italy’s goal lived a charmed life, but no further goals were found, leaving Ireland to settle for a draw.

“A little bit frustrating in the end,” said captain Sean Murray. “I think we were pretty dominant and so it was disappointing to get the draw.

“We are a very inexperienced squad and trying to get in as many matches as possible, so we have to understand it is not all going to click straight away.”

The Irish men are next in action in a fortnight with a four-nations series against Scotland, Wales and the United States.

Ireland – J Carr, C Rowe, L Witherow, C Robson, K Marshall, S Murray, J Duncan, M Robson, C Empey, N Page, R Patterson. Subs: B Walker, B Johnson, J Lynch, S Hyland, J McKee, T Cross, J Milliken

Italy – F Mitrotta, S Minetto, T Keenan, V Mardones, J Munafo, F Sior, M Mondo, A Ughetto, F Harte, F Quiroga, M Amorosini. Subs: S Puglisi, G Clement, G Ursone, F Caruso, L Stramazzo, L Valentino

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