Eurohockey Championship II: Ireland forced to settle for draw with Italy

O'Donoghue scored his 112th international goal having set up the winner against Poland on Sunday

Ireland are one win away from a guaranteed place in the World Cup qualifiers after a 1-1 draw with Italy left them on four points after two games at the Eurohockey Championships II.

Any sort of win over Croatia on Wednesday will also ensure Ireland's passage to the semi-finals.

Shane O'Donoghue's 112th international goal gave the Irish the perfect start before a quick reply from Francois Sior saw Italy equalise as both goals came in the first quarter,

Like Ireland, Italy sit one four points having won their opening match.

After a slow start Ireland began to find joy going forward, with O'Donoghue's crossfield overheads giving the Italians considerable problems.

O'Donoghue linked up with Tim Cross on the right to win a penalty corner of their own, from which O'Donoghue was on hand to score with a low drag-flick.

It was to be a short-lived lead however as merely six minutes later the ball fell kindly for Sior who needed no second invitation, lashing a ferocious effort into the roof of the goal.

Chances thereafter were few and far between, with Ian Stewart and Cross asking questions of the Italy defence while Jeremy Duncan did have the ball in the goal, only for the move to be called back for an earlier infringement.

"We had a few corners which we needed to capitalise on but this is tournament hockey and we have to learn from it," reflected O'Donoghue.

"We didn't play with the same level of aggression to the game against Poland. There were some sticky patches which we had to weather and we played good stuff at times but the bounce of the ball didn't go our way."

"They play their style which is frustrating to play against. I don't think they caused us too much damage but, from our end, we didn't have create enough chances."

"All the teams are here for the same thing and want to win it, get that gold medal and move up the world rankings. We will get back to basics, not make those mistakes, get our forwards more into the game, take some chances and we will be fine. We will research the Croatians and go into it with good belief we can get the job done."

Top Stories

Also in NI Sport