IRELAND 2 EGYPT 1
Ireland’s men emulated their female counterparts by reaching the quarter-final of the Hockey World League Semi-Final in Johannesburg thanks to a 2-1 win over Egypt.
They left it late against the world number 19 side with Shane O’Donoghue eventually getting the winner with two minutes left on the clock.
Indeed, the green machine trailed at the break to Ahmed El-Naggar’s goal late in the half but Chris Cargo quickly equalised after half-time before O’Donoghue fired home a high drag-flick from the fifth penalty corner to seal the deal.
“It was a tough match in a must-win game with what was at stake,” coach Craig Fulton said after the tie. “I am glad we have started well in the tournament and very proud of the players, especially Jamie Carr who played well in David Harte’s absence.”
Fulton was referring to Carr making his first appearance in a major ranking tournament, stepping into goal in place of the two-time world goalkeeper of the year who sustained a concussion in the game against Belgium earlier this week.
Harte will be monitored in the three rest days before Ireland face Germany under the return to play protocols.
Ireland started well against Egypt, winning two penalty corners in the first quarter but could not convert while Alan Sothern went close from play. It was a game with few chances, however, with the African side employing a very deep line which made space hard to come by.
They countered at pace when they broke out and they scored their one chance of note in the 25th minute when Ahmed Mohsen robbed the ball in the right corner and found Ahmed El-Naggar. He lifted a lovely shot over the advancing Carr for 1-0.
Ireland, though, were intent to stick to their processes and be patient, waiting for the openings. And they got level when Chris Cargo quickly took on a long corner with an auto-pass, beating a defender and slamming past Ahmed Adel a minute into the second half.
Egypt had some fleeting moments on the attack, drawing two good stops from Carr, but Ireland soon had more control on the tie. A fourth Irish corner was blocked while an Alan Sothern half-chances bounced wide.
O’Donoghue looked to have equalised with three minutes to go when his reverse-stick shot looped into the goal but, on video review, the effort was cancelled out.
No matter; one minute later, he was given another penalty corner chance and this time he powered into the top right corner for his second goal of the tournament.
“It was tricky and things didn’t go as we would have liked,” O’Donoghue said afterwards. “The big thing was we kept our composure when it counted. The basics weren’t there and there were lots of simple errors but it is great to fight back and be able to get the win.
“Our defence was superb today right the way up from our goalkeeper. We know it was far from our best [up the field]. The second half, we came out nice and calm, trying to build more phases and genuine chances to score.”
As for the disallowed goal, O’Donoghue had no issues with the decision: “I knew straightaway it was back-stick! It’s the way things go; the game was quite tense toward the end and you want to get that shot away nice and quick. But we got that win and are on to the next game.”
The result means Ireland are guaranteed a place in the top four in the group with Monday’s name against Germany to determine who they meet in next Wednesday’s key quarter-finals.
Ireland’s women are next in action of the two teams when they complete their group stages on Sunday against England.
Ireland: J Carr, J Jackson, J Bell, C Cargo, M Nelson, A Sothern, E Magee, S O’Donoghue, C Harte, S Loughrey, S Cole
Subs: M Bell, N Glassey, S Murray, J McKee, P Gleghorne, J Duncan
Egypt: A Adel, A Ezz, M Mansour, K Atef, A Gamal, A Sayed, A Said, A El-Naggar, A El-Ganaini, M Zaki, H Ghobran
Subs: A Ibrahim, M Ragab, M Mamdouh, A Mohsen, M Nasr, M Gadelkarim, W Noureldin