Ireland men’s hockey coach Paul Revington was keen to focus on the positives after his side fell to a 2-1 defeat to world number-eight side Pakistan in Belfield on Saturday night in the final of the UCD Four Nations Cup final.
On a memorable night for the sport in the country, the National Hockey Stadium enjoyed its highest gate since hosting the women’s World Cup in the mid 1990s.
Pakistani residents in Dublin made their presence felt, drums and bunting abounded, raising the ante for the local support who responded in kind.
But while Revington’s side ultimately fell short, he said that, with the European championships in mind, his side got the most from the tournament.
“We’re delighted we’ve played two games against a side like Pakistan rather than the others, which means we’ve done something right during the week. To still be close towards the end of the game means we also must have done some things right.
“As for the crowd, we weren’t too sure if it was Dublin or Lahore. It was brilliant.”
The sizeable audience bore witness to Sohail Abbas extending his world-record goals tally, netting two penalty corners to lift his tally to 317 international strikes.
Shakeel Abbasi, another of Pakistan’s mainstays, was producing his finest form of the tournament but David Harte – named player of the tournament – kept his side in the game, saving five penalty corners as well as denying Muhammad Zubair and Waqas Akbar.
It was not all one-way traffic, though, as Joe Brennan, Chris Cargo and Mitch Darling combined brilliantly.
And John Jermyn levelled from an ensuing penalty corner midway through the second half to level matters but Abbas grabbed his second with 11 minutes to go to take the title.
Ireland complained long and hard about that the goal, arguing about the legitimacy of the corner decision against Bruce McCandless.
Again, Revington suggested the practice was more important than the outcome.
“There were a few where we ended up questioning the umpires.
Whether they were the right decisions, I’m not sure but it’s live corner practice, though, and it’s invaluable.
“We try and win every game and the guys are disappointed but there is still a bigger picture and we’ve got to move on.”
IRELAND: D Harte, C Harte, T Lewis, G McCabe, R Gormley, M Watt, C Cargo, J Jermyn, M Darling, D Ames, S Loughrey Subs: J Brennan, B McCandless, T Cockram, P Maguire, S O’Donoghue.
PAKISTAN: S Akbar, M Zubair, W Ahmed, M Imran, S Abbasi, R Butt, M Rizwan Senior, M Waqas, R Mehmood, M Irfan, S Abbas. Subs: W Akbar, A Haseem Khan, F Ahmed, S Rasool, M Tousiq.