Ireland defeated their European rivals France 3-0 in a shoot-out competition at the Pahang Hockey Champions Challenge 1 to march into the top four. The score after regulation time had been tied at 2-2.
Ireland and France are two teams knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses very well as they are used to playing each other frequently in Europe. The Green Machine took an early lead thanks to Alan Sothern’s (2’) penalty corner goal. Afterwards it was France who had the greater ball possession and created more scoring opportunities.
Despite winning a series of penalty corners in the first two quarters, the Tricolores were unable to beat David Harte in the Irish goal. Again, the keeper delivered an outstanding performance to keep his team in the match. “David is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, credit to him and the whole defence”, said Ireland captain John Jackson.
The hard work and effort showed by the French team paid off in the second half when Guillaume Deront (41’) was unmarked in front of goal, received the ball and scored. The Tricolores controlled the match from that point and added another goal when team-captain Martin Genestet (50’) managed to get the ball past David Harte. “We were far from our best hockey but we fought up to the end”, Jackson added.
The fourth quarter saw Ireland becoming stronger, forcing two penalty corners towards the end of the match. The second one was neatly taken by Stephen Dowds (64’) to level the score to 2-2.
In the shootout, Ireland could rely on their world-class goalkeeper Harte who kept a clean sheet. The Irish goals were scored by Eugene Magee, Peter Brown and Alan Sothern.