Green Machine bow out of World Cup after 'gut-wrenching' defeat to England
England 4 Ireland 2
Irish hockey's annus mirabilis couldn't stretch to another week with the men's team last night as the Green Machine exited the World Cup following an enthralling defeat to England.
Needing only a draw to advance to the pre-quarter-final game against New Zealand on Monday, defeat, which included four goals in four minutes of captivating hockey, ultimately left Ireland without a win in their first World Cup since 1990.
In truth, it was their opening 30 minutes which did for Ireland, who failed to make any inroads into England's circle as the world No 7 team proved the more committed, calmer team when it mattered.
"We wanted to get further than we've ever done in a World Cup and continue our rise in what we are doing but we have come up short," said David Harte, Ireland's captain.
Grudge "It's the small details at the top level and it's gut-wrenching right now."
In a pre-billed grudge match, the only clear sign of tempers flaring came when Conor Harte and David Condon locked shoulders competitively, with both spoken to by the umpire. Hockey did the talking but it was England's purpose that shone through.
As the first quarter ended, Condon swept forwards to Will Calnan on the baseline, returning to an unmarked Condon, who slapped home past Harte for England's opener.
Ireland returned a different outfit after the break. A captivating period started in the 35th minute when Sean Murray flicked to Chris Cargo, whose pass looked to be weighted for a Michael Darling deflection. Instead, it went straight in past George Pinner.
Two minutes later, David Ames sent Liam Ansell out wide. The England forward's angle looked too acute for a shot, but Ansell's ferocious shot beat a rooted Harte at his near post. By now, it was end-to-end fare, with midfield passes being sprayed into each circle.
Ireland won two penalty corners, the second of which saw Shane O'Donoghue strike with a deflected flick past Pinner. His equaliser, at 2-2, left him as Ireland's record goalscorer, with 94.
Undeterred, the impressive Liam Sanford sent in a long pass towards James Gall, whose angled stick shot flew into the net.
The goal frenzy eased up but Ireland soon had to opt for a kicking back with three minutes left. Two chances from crash balls then went abegging either side of Pinner's post.
The final blow came four seconds from the hooter as Mark Gleghorne, the former Irish player, slotted home a penalty corner to put England out of sight.
Earlier, Australia thumped China 11-0. China still qualified in third, ahead of Ireland, to set up a crossover clash against France and a match featuring the two lowest-ranked sides. Further agony for the Irish.
Ireland - D Harte, J Bell, Cargo, Sothern, Magee, O'Donoghue, Darling, Robson, P Gleghorne, C Harte, Loughrey. Rolling subs: M Bell, Nelson, Shimmins, Murray, Fitzgerald, Walsh, Cole.
England - Pinner, Ames, Martin, M Gleghorne, Dixon, Middleton, Ansell, Condon, Waller, Gall, Sanford. Subs: Gibson, Taylor, Sloan, Hoare, Roper, Calnan, Wallace.