Tuesday 17 September 2019

Cox's crew leave it late to snatch draw

Ireland 3 Scotland 3

Ireland played their get out-of-jail-free card as last-ditch goals from Tim Cross and Shane O’Donoghue saw them snatch a draw against Scotland. (stock photo)
Ireland played their get out-of-jail-free card as last-ditch goals from Tim Cross and Shane O’Donoghue saw them snatch a draw against Scotland. (stock photo)

Stephen Findlater

Ireland played their get out-of-jail-free card as last-ditch goals from Tim Cross and Shane O'Donoghue saw them snatch a draw against Scotland.

It avoided the disaster of losing to the lowest-ranked side in Pool A of the European Championships but does leave their tournament hopes still in a perilous position.

A 5-1 loss to the Netherlands on Saturday meant they were on the back foot but they started well against the Scots, deservedly taking a 12th minute lead through O'Donoghue.

But then disaster struck as Scotland fought back with two goals from Kenny Bain and a Craig Falconer spin and flick put them 3-1 up with time running out. Cross - the naturalised Australian - gave the Green Machine a lifeline with a stunning half-volley with five minutes to go.

O'Donoghue then held his nerve from a contentious penalty stroke to level it. Indeed, it might have been better had Seán Murray's touch not been denied by a Tommy Alexander wonder save in the last minute.

The point means Ireland must win against Germany to have any chance of a semi-final spot but, more likely, will carry one point into the relegation pool.

"We back ourselves in the way we play to get a result," Cross said after his first goal in green inspired the comeback.

"We had patches where we were loose across the whole field and, in international hockey, teams will punish you. We managed to fight back which was class by us but we just need to bring that energy to all four quarters rather than patches."

But coach Alexander Cox says if the side do not tighten up for the game with the Germans tomorrow, they can forget about the final four.

"The way we defend as a group and individuals, I am not happy. On the ball, I am quite happy with what we are doing," Cox said. "If you see the Holland game and this one, the semi-final spot is not one we deserve."

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