Hockey World League 3: Ireland beat New Zealand to secure World Cup place

Ireland's hockey team clinch World Cup place

Ireland's men have qualified for the World Cup finals for the first time since 1990 after beating New Zealand 1-0 in a World League 3 play-off.

Alan Sothern's goal in the final quarter in Johannesburg earned Ireland fifth place, which ensures a berth at the World Cup in India next year.

New Zealand hit the crossbar in the first half, while Ireland scored the only goal with 11 minutes left.

Sothern netted from a rebound after Neal Glassey's effort was saved.

The goal came from a rare sortie into the New Zealand half with Chris Cargo's crash ball into the circle deflected on goal by Glassey.

Kiwi goalkeeper Devin Manchester kept it out only for Sothern to calmly slot home from a tight angle.

With the two sides separated in the world rankings by just one place - Ireland are ninth and New Zealand eighth - it was a tight battle.

Ireland squandered a couple of early penalty corner chances while New Zealand were denied by the woodwork.

Ireland's Matthew Nelson comes under pressure in the Johannesburg play-off against New Zealand
Ireland's Matthew Nelson comes under pressure in the Johannesburg play-off against New Zealand

New Zealand had most of the possession in the second half but Irish goalkeeper Davy Harte and his defenders kept them out.

In a frenetic finish Ireland repelled further New Zealand attacks and celebrated a famous win.

"It was a tight game and it could have gone either way - it was a win built on character and defence basically won us that game," said Ireland head coach Craig Fulton.

"We wanted to come away with qualification and that's really pleasing. It was a great squad effort."

Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, M Bell, C Cargo, M Nelson, A Sothern, E Magee, S O'Donoghue, P Gleghorne, C Harte, S Cole

Subs: J Carr, J Bell (capt), N Glassey, S Murray, J Duncan, S Loughrey, J McKee (Injured)

New Zealand: N Haig, N Ross, R Joyce, N Woods, B Tarrant (capt), A Panchia, S McAleese, S Jenness, H Inglis, G Muir, H Phillips

Subs: D Brydon, S Lane, M Child, J Panchia, D Manchester, K Russell, L Mitai Wells

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