Sunday 27 May 2018

O'Donoghue brace fires Ireland to medal glory

Men's European championships: Ireland 4 England 2

Ireland’s Chris Cargo celebrates
Ireland’s Chris Cargo celebrates Newsdesk Newsdesk

Ireland claimed their first ever medals at European hockey championships as they upset hosts England in the third play-off at London's Olympic complex.

Defender Paul Gleghorne ended the game with a sore shoulder but with bronze and plenty of family bragging rights to ease the pain.

The defeated England team included three Ulstermen, with Iain Lewers and David Ames joining Paul's brother Mark.

The Green Machine were on the back foot for most of the first half, but each time their opponents scored they rallied, giving home goalie George Pinner an afternoon to forget.

First Shane O'Donoghue beat him for pace minutes after Harry Pinner gave England the lead and then Alan Sothern wrong-footed Pinner to level the score once more after Adam Dixon's goal.

Ireland took the initiative in the third quarter, Eugene Magee's drag flick all but breaking the net.

From there on, the Irish were happy to concentrate on defence, with man of the match Gleghorne making a series of superb tackles.

The English thought they had rescued the tie when Ashley Jackson beat Davy Harte, but his effort was ruled dangerous and instead the final score of the day fell to O'Donoghue.

He stepped up to the penalty to deliver with three seconds left on the clock after Kirk Shimmins was fouled as he was in on goal.

Ironically, the foul was committed by Lewers and it was left to O'Donoghue to administer the coup de grace.

The quality of Ireland's London campaign was underlined by the result of the championship final, won 6-1 against Germany by the Netherlands, who only beat Craig Fulton's side 1-0 in the early stages of the competition.

The tournament suggested that Ireland, yet to be confirmed as participants in for the Rio Olympics, will be well capable of cutting a dash in Brazil.

Meanwhile, former Irish women's international Nikki Symmons, who clocked up 208 caps during a 13-year career in green, has been inducted into European hockey's hall of fame.

Ireland (v England): D Harte, M Bell, P Gleghorne, C Harte, J Jackson, K Shimmins, S O'Donoghue, C Cargo, A Sothern, P Caruth, M Watt. Subs: E Magee, M Darling, K Good, M Robson, R Gormley, J Bruton. Not used: D Fitzgerald.

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