Controversial decision ends Ireland’s Olympic hockey dream

Ireland captain Jonathan Bell. PICTURE: FRANK UIJLENBROEK
Ireland captain Jonathan Bell. PICTURE: FRANK UIJLENBROEK
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Ireland Men’s hockey team suffered sudden-death penalty heartache in their bid to reach the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.

Leading 5-3 following the first leg against Canada in Vancouver on Saturday it looked like the Irish were heading to Tokyo as they trailed 2-1 going into the final few seconds of the second leg yesterday.

The home side pushed forward for one last attack as James Wallace burst forward, before going down as Lee Cole closed him down.

The final whistle went and Ireland celebrated, but controversially the decision was sent for referral.

Both sides waited anxiously for Video official Diego Barbas’ decision, but unfortunately for Mark Tumilty’s side a penalty stroke was awarded to the home side.

Canada captain Scott Tupper stepped up to convert and take the game to penalty strokes as the tie finished 6-6 on aggregate.

Eugene Magee, Johnny McKee and Peter Caruth all score to give Ireland a 3-1 lead on penalties, but two misses followed, givining Canada a way back in. Magee netted again in sudden death, nut the hosts went on to secure the victory.

Speaking after the game Ireland captain Jonathan Bell could not contain his frustration.

“The video umpire should hang his head in shame. It was a terrible, terrible decision in the last moments of the game,” he said. “Fair play to Canada, they came out hard at us. They had chances, we had chances, but as I say a decision like that at this level is just not acceptable.”