Comfortable victory: Ireland hammer France in opening series match

Shane O'Donoughue scored four goals for Ireland
Shane O'Donoughue scored four goals for Ireland

IRELAND 6 FRANCE 1

Shane O'Donoghue scored four goals as Ireland hammered France 6-1 to take the lead in this week's three-match series.

O'Donoghue terrorised the French defence throughout the game at UCC as Ireland continued their preparations for this year's World Cup in India.

Victor Charlet got the consolation goal for the visitors with the teams set to meet again at the same venue on Sunday.

Ireland coach Craig Fulton steps down at the end of the series to begin an assistant coaching role with Belgium.

In a repeat of Thursday's drawn match, Ireland got onto the scoreboard early when O'Donoghue was waiting on the penalty spot to convert from John Jackson's superb run and pass.

The home side almost doubled their lead minutes later as Conor Harte's penalty corner drag drew a great low stick save from Corentin Saunier but Jamie Carr had to make an equally good save from Charlet's drag in the next attack.

Ireland's Paul Gleghorne had to clear after Maximilien Branicki and Tom Genestet forced a goal mouth scramble before O'Donoghue doubled his tally in the 25th minute with a low drag flick that went straight past goalkeeper Tom Genestet to give his side a 2-0 lead at half time.

O'Donoghue wrapped up his hat-trick within two minutes of the start of the second half after an excellent pass from Harte and the forward added his fourth just five minutes later with another drag flick.

Charlet grabbed a consolation for France with a powerful drag of his own in the 43rd minute but Mitch Darling made it 5-1 when he got a vital deflection on a high crash ball by Michael Robson.

Ireland rounded off a superb victory in the final minute when Banbridge's Eugene Magee scored with a reverse strike from a penalty corner.

Ireland: J Carr, J Jackson, C Cargo, P Caruth, S O'Donoghue, J McKee, M Darling, M Robson, P Gleghorne, C Harte (c) L Cole.

Subs: J Bell, M Bell, E Magee, S Murray, O Magee, D Walsh, M Ingram.