Irish hockey men hit China for six to book quarter-final spot

Alan Sothern scored a hat-trick for Ireland against China in Antwerp
Alan Sothern scored a hat-trick for Ireland against China in Antwerp

Ireland coasted to a 6-0 win over China to progress to the quarter-finals of the World League tournament in Antwerp.

Alan Sothern hit a hat-trick with Peter Caruth, Ronan Gormley and Stephen Dowds also scoring in the Pool B game.

A Sothern brace and Caruth's strike had the Irish 3-0 up at half time before goalkeeper David Harte was later stretchered off with a neck injury.

Ireland face Belgium in their final Pool game on Sunday but are already guaranteed a quarter-final spot.

A top-three finish in the tournament would guarantee Ireland a place at the 2016 Olympics, while finishing fourth or fifth would also provide a strong chance of reaching Rio.

The first quarter on Friday saw few chances before Alan Sothern scored twice in quick succession in the second quarter, with a quick strike and a reverse strike.

Sothern was again in the midst of the action and won a penalty stroke when he was fouled during a penalty corner, but the shot was saved.

Caruth scored the third goal after terrific link-up play between Watt and Jackson set up a tap-in.

David Harte was forced to make a stunning save two minutes into the second half but was later stretchered off after a collision with a Chinese striker.

Gormley added Ireland's fourth goal before Sothern completed his hat-trick a minute later.

Stephen Dowds added the final goal and both teams were reduced to nine players during a fiery fourth quarter.

Ireland: Harte, Jackson, Gormley, Watt, Cargo, Sothern, O'Donoghue, Darling, Good, Gleghorne, Harte.

Subs: Bell, Dowds, Maggee, Caruth, Shimmins, Fitzgerald.

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