Ireland added Hockey World League Round 2 gold on Sunday evening to their all-important ticket to the next phase of the competition with a 4-2 shoot-out win over France at Stormont. While David Harte picked up GK of the Tournament and Jonny McKee was named Best Young Player of the Tournament.
The primary objective for the week was achieved on Saturday with a hugely impressive 3-1 win over Wales, ensuring Ireland finished in the top three with goals from Shane O’Donoghue, Ben Walker and the irrepressible Neal Glassey.
That ensures they go forward to World League Round 3 where the 2018 World Cup places will be decided.And they followed up with the tournament win, putting another feather in the cap of a very young side.
The first half of the final was a subdued affair with flowing hockey at a premium. France earned a couple of penalty corners that David Harte kept out while his counterpart Arthur Thieffry did likewise, keeping out shots from Shane O’Donoghue and Jonny McKee.
With the half petering out, France won their third corner and Victor Charlet rammed home the opening goal with a low bullet down the middle.
The third quarter provided more of the same before Ireland stirred in a big way in the closing quarter, rattling the French who were reduced to nine men for various indiscretions.
During that time, Gormley won Ireland’s only corner which Shane O’Donoghue nailed for 1-1 with eight minutes to go. Jonny McKee and Lee Cole then both stung the palms of Arthut Thieffry in a rousing finale.
In the shoot-out Conor Harte, Eugene Magee, Cole and McKee all scored while David Harte’s pair of saves ensured victory.
For coach Craig Fulton, it was hugely satisfying in seeing a much-changed squad prevail with eight tournament debutants while he had to cope with the injuries to John Jermyn and Chris Cargo late in the day.It meant numerous new faces but coach Craig Fulton was quick to praise the squad for building game on game to produce ever-improved performances.