Sunday 21 July 2019

O'Donoghue upbeat ahead of Korean 'dogfight'

'Ireland will be more rested having snatched top spot in Pool A on goal difference' Stock photo
'Ireland will be more rested having snatched top spot in Pool A on goal difference' Stock photo

Stephen Findlater

After a tumultuous week, it's do-or-die time for the Irish men's hockey team as they face Korea in the semi-final of the FIH Series in Le Touquet, France (2.30pm, Irish time).

The winner is guaranteed a place in next October's Olympic qualifiers with the Green Machine aiming to get revenge over the side that decimated their chances of a place at London 2012.

David and Conor Harte, Eugene Magee, Paul Gleghorne and John Jackson were all part of that vintage as Nam Yong Lee - who will be captain today - got a killer touch nine seconds from time to end Irish hopes back then. This time, their meeting is much earlier on the road but victory will be a big step along the way.

Ireland will be more rested having snatched top spot in Pool A on goal difference, skipping the quarter-final phase, while Korea only scraped into the semis via a last-minute equaliser against Egypt and a subsequent shoot-out win.

Nonetheless, it has been far from serene progress for Alexander Cox's side with Shane O'Donoghue saying the mood was very low last Sunday following a 2-1 loss to the Egyptians.

"We were purely beaten by a team with more hunger and played with a lot more passion. That hurts to say."

But an 11-0 win over Singapore - in which O'Donoghue became the first Irish player to score 100 times - allowed them to nick top spot on goal difference. And he says the feeling is much more upbeat.

"It will be a dogfight against Korea and a very tough game but it's all eyes on the prize. Everyone in the team is now in a much happier, peaceful kind of mindset compared to earlier in the week. To have that positivity going into a do-or-die game for us is going to be massive in terms of Olympic qualification," he added.

Irish Independent

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