Battling Ireland lose narrowly to Australia in World Cup opener

Ireland's Shane O'Donoghue celebrates his goal with teammates at the 2018 Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup in India. Pic by INPHO.
Ireland's Shane O'Donoghue celebrates his goal with teammates at the 2018 Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup in India. Pic by INPHO.

Ireland’s opening World Cup fixture against the world number one side, Australia, proved an entertaining and close affair throughout.

Inside the opening minute Australia broke into the circle but the towering Conor Harte was on hand to intercept the effort in front of goal.

In the 10th minute Australia were awarded a stroke as David Harte’s save hit Paul Gleghorne on the line but a smart video referral saw the decision overturned as the ball was going wide of the goal and Australia were awarded a penalty corner instead.

Blake Govers put his side in the lead with a trademark drag flick in the 11th minute. But it didn’t take long for Ireland to reply, Murray glided through the middle of the pitch to slip the ball to Shane O’Donoghue who batted home from chest height to draw the game level in superb fashion.

Australia upped the ante as the clock ticked towards half-time but Harte and his defence were alert to the danger and went into half time with 44 per-cent of the possession.

Australia came out of the blocks firing in the second half and Tim Brand put them in front in the 33rd minute. Corey Weyer sent a pin point pass to the waiting Brand on the edge of the circle, Harte saved the first shot but Brand remained composed to fire the rebound into the net.

There remained very little between the two sides and Paul Gleghorne was on hand as ever to make several important tackles if the Australian forward line broke through. With two minutes to go, Harte was pulled from his goal and Gleghorne donned the kicking back jersey as Ireland tried in vain to snatch the equaliser.

Ireland’s next match of the Odisha World Cup is on Tuesday at 7pm IST/1:30PM GMT.

Ireland: D Harte (captain), J Bell, C Cargo, M Nelson, E Magee, S O’Donoghue, S Murray, M Darling, P Gleghorne, C Harte, S Loughrey

Subs: M Bell, A Sothern, K Shimmins, M Robson, D Fitzgerald, D Walsh, L Cole