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Saturday 10 December 2016

Irish defied by holders but show courage

Pádraig Harrington, Irish Team leader Paul McGinley and Harrington’s caddie Ronan Flood during a practice round yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Pádraig Harrington, Irish Team leader Paul McGinley and Harrington’s caddie Ronan Flood during a practice round yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Holders Germany proved too strong for the Irish men's hockey team, winning their Pool B tie 3-2 at the Olympic Hockey Centre, Rio de Janeiro yesterday.

Ireland's future is now not fully in their own hands as they must beat both Argentina and Canada and hope other outcomes go their way if they are to progress.

The men in green settled well against the Olympic champions of the last two games and forced a penalty corner with two minutes remaining in the first quarter.

However, Ireland could not convert and Germany swept forward to earn a penalty corner themselves which culminated in their captain Moritz Fürste forcing the ball to the net to give his side the lead.

But Ireland did not buckle and the sides were back on level terms when 30-year-old midfielder Eugene Magee fired home a brilliantly taken goal in the second quarter.

Typical of champions Germany responded in emphatic fashion but in Irish keeper Davy Harte, a cousin of Tyrone senior football manager Mikey, they met a man in inspired form as he came to Ireland's rescue on several occasions using his 6'5" frame to full effect.

The countries enter the break on level terms but the balance of power looked to have swung firmly the way of the reigning holders.

Midway through the third quarter Fürste added a second goal from a penalty corner to restore Germany's advantage, 2-1.

Within minutes Germany had established firm control to go 3-1 up when Martin Zwicker showed poacher's instincts to breach Harte's defence.

With just over a minute remaining Mitch Darling scored a superb goal to cut the deficit but there was to be no further late heroics by Ireland.

Nevertheless, the quality of the performance was a tonic after the one-sided nature of the 5-0l defeat to Holland two days earlier and teed them up nicely to take on lowly ranked Canada in their next outing.

Encouraging signs included improved form of the forwards, with Mikey Watt and Peter Caruth showing glimpses of skill while 34 year old John Jermyn controlled many of the midfield exchanges.

Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, P Gleghorne, C Harte, R Gormley, K Shimmins, E Magee, J Jermyn, M Watt, M Darling, K Good. Subs: J Bell, S O'Donoghue, P Caruth, A Sothern, C Cargo.

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