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Monday 5 December 2016

Hockey: Boss Darren Smith 'devastated' after shoot-out defeat

18 June 2015; Chloe Watkins, Ireland. Womens World League Round 3, Ireland v China. Valencia, Spain. Picture credit: David Aliaga / SPORTSFILE
18 June 2015; Chloe Watkins, Ireland. Womens World League Round 3, Ireland v China. Valencia, Spain. Picture credit: David Aliaga / SPORTSFILE

Ireland's hopes of making the Olympic Games in Rio have been dealt a huge blow after a gut-wrenching penalty shootout defeat to China.

After previously defeating the USA and South Africa, a win for Ireland would have sealed a place in the last four of the World Hockey League.

However despite a highly dominant performance, they drew 1-1 in Valencia before losing on penalties.

All is not lost, however.

While only the top three are officially ensured of qualification for Rio, the fourth, fifth and sixth placed teams could yet still earn a place at the Games depending on results from other continental tournaments.

Ireland coach Darren Smith could not hide his disappointment after the result but insisted that the ticket to Rio was not out of their sights just yet.

"Losing the shootout is devastating. I thought over the match we had created enough but they defended the corners really well and we weren't as clinical as we would have liked," he said.

"All we wanted was to get to Rio, it's the biggest carrot in our sport, the women's team has never gone.

"We'll get some metal up our back and see if we can get a fifth or sixth spot when we line up on Saturday."

The Irish were dominant in the game with 11 shots to China's four but failed to convert from 13 penalty corners.

Chloe Watkins cancelled out Zhang's early strike in the third quarter but they lost the shootout 4-3.

Their captain had two opportunities in the shootout to send her team to Rio but was frustrated on both occasions.

 

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