Ireland created the majority of chances that followed including five penalty corners before half time and some great open play shots. But the usual clinical finish from Ireland’s marksmen did not appear until their fifth attempt when John Jermyn fired home his drag effort in the 31st minute low to the left to level the sides before the break.
The second half opened up more with attacks coming early from both sides eager to take the lead. Ireland were first in with the shot in the 38th minute but the Russian keeper dealt with the attempt comfortably before his own midfield countered forcing Ireland into defence mode to keep the Russians at bay. Russia were reduced to ten men in the 49th minute and despite creating chances it looked like the finishing touch was going to evade Ireland all day until John Jermyn fired home a thunderous shot from the top of the circle leaving the keeper no chance of denying Ireland the lead at 2-1 for the first time today.
Three minutes later Ireland looked likely to extend their lead but the woodwork denied Irelands shot. Both sides were forced to ten men in the 61st when Jermyn and Larikova were both shown yellow for an off the ball incident. The game really began to open up in the final ten minutes as Russia desperately tried to find an equalising goal. With just five minutes left on the clock Russia secured three consecutive penalty corners, but excellent defending by the Irish men denied Russia the chance to push the game into extra time.
Commenting after the game it was clear Coach Revington was delighted however there are still areas for improvement We are absolutely delighted with the outcome of the match. But frustrated that we did not finish the game off earlier as a result of some poor decision making when shooting on goal.
OCI Chief Executive Stephen Martin said ” its fantastic news to see Ireland back in the top tier of European Nations.I know the players and coaching staff have been working hard to achieve this objective as one of their 3 major goals over the next 3 years. Next up the World Cup qualifiers and he OCI are delighted to be supplementing hockeys performance programme through the Olympic Team support grant in a bid to assist goal 3, qualification for London 2012″
Ireland will travel home tomorrow deservedly with gold in their back pockets, promotion to the top tier of European hockey for 2011, but with thoughts of World Cup Qualifiers just a couple of months away there will not be much of a rest period for this talented squad.
Ireland Starting XI: John JACKSON, Ronan GORMLEY (C), Stephen BUTLER, Joe BREENAN, John JERMYN, Eugene MAGEE, Graham SHAW, Timothy COCKRAM, Alan SOTHERN, Tim LEWIS, David HARTE
Reserves: Conor HARTE; David HOBBS; Geoff MCCABE; Mitch DARLING, Alan GILES