A 2-1 defeat to an Australia squad ranked number one in the world marked a thrilling start to the tournament in India.
“Our players put their bodies on the line for the result today,” said Cox following Ireland’s first men’s World Cup appearance since 1990. “We always knew this was going to be a physical game against the world number one team.
“It wasn’t the result we wanted but I’m very proud of the whole team.
“We gave it our all and were in the game until the final whistle.”
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Blake Govers broke the deadlock in Australia’s favour but Ireland hit back thanks to strong work by Sean Murray before Shane O’Donogue’s fine finish.
However, Tim Brand’s goal put the defending World Cup champions back in control - leaving Ireland now to regroup before Tuesday’s test with China.
“We always knew it was going to be a tough game, playing the world number one in the first game of the World Cup,” said Ireland’s Jonathan Bell on the official tournament website. “I think we put in a great performance, obviously didn’t get the result, but by and large I thought we executed our gameplan pretty well so we can be proud of that.
“We still have a lot of improvements to make before a big game on Tuesday.”
Ireland will also meet England next Friday across Pool B.