IRL Men suffer narrow defeat against Argentina in FIH Pro League



Ireland went into this match having only previously beaten Argentina once in their last sixteen meetings dating back to 1978. In the last 9 matches dating back to 2013 Ireland had only been able to register 1 draw, the rest were all defeats.

Argentina, whose passage to the Olympics this summer was very straightforward winning the Pan American games, took on Ireland in the second FIH PRO LEAGUE match between the two countries in Antwerp. Ireland who secured their passage to Paris by coming third in a qualification tournament in Valencia had been on the wrong end of a 3-1 defeat in the first of the two games between these sides on Thursday.

And they started well on this occasion, Bautista Capurro burst through in the opening stages, but Shane O’Donoghue blocked his effort at the expense of a long corner. Daragh Walsh playing his 99th international match for Ireland won the first penalty corner of the match for his country, Luke Madeley’s penalty corner rattled the backboard to give Ireland the lead in the 13th minute.

It was end to end stuff with both sides enjoying periods of possession and circle entries. Argentina won a penalty corner through Maico Casela in the 16th minute. Nicolas Dela Torre’s shot towards goal was deflected by Lucas Martinez and went wide. Bautista Capurro burst down the left wing and cut inside the semi-circle and rifled the ball into the roof of the net to make the score 1-1 in the 19th minute.

But it didn’t take long for Ireland to regain the lead. A long high ball into the semi-circle hit off an Argentinian foot and Ireland were awarded a penalty corner. The penalty corner was converted by drag flicker Luke Madeley for his second of the match and giving Ireland a lead of 2-1.

In the 25th minute a cross by Jonathan Lynch was saved by Thomas Santiago, who saved with his foot. A long pass into the Irish semi-circle found Tomas Demene and he fired a shot which goalkeeper Mark Ingram saved with his foot. Ingram saved another penalty corner but Argentina were awarded a second penalty corner in the 27th minute. Tomas Demene converted the second penalty corner to give Argentina an equaliser and make the score 2-2 in the 28th minute. Maico Casela had a chance to give Argentina the lead on the final hooter of the first half, but he was outside the semi-circle and fired wide. 2-2 at half-time.

The third quarter was every bit as hectic as the first half. Chances at both ends and both sides enjoyed periods of possession and semi-circle entries. There were two goals within a minute. Nicolas Keenan gave Argentina the lead Inaki Minadeo crossed and Nicolas Keenan deflected it past replacement goalkeeper Jamie Carr to put Argentina 3-2 ahead, but it was a lead that only lasted a minute. Within 60 seconds Ireland were back level. Ben Walker got a pass from outside the semi-circle and passed it inside to the better positioned Alistair Empey and he finished to the net in the 40th minute to make it 3-3.

Argentina regained the lead in the 53rd minute. Argentina were awarded a penalty corner and  the ball was sent to Nicolas Keenan at the far post his short pass was deflected past Jamie Carr and into the net by Thomas Habif to put Argentina 4-3 up. Ireland were reduced to 10 men when   Louis Rowe was green carded in the 54th minute, but Argentina did not capitalize on the extra player. Tim Cross won a penalty corner for Ireland in the final seconds, Luke Madeley’s drag flick was saved by Thomas Santiago’s foot. In the closing seconds Ireland launched a counter-attack but Argentina dispossessed Ireland in the final seconds to leave the final score 4-3.

Speaking after the match Head Coach Mark Tumilty said:

“We are pretty disappointed with that fourth goal. Our corner defence wasn’t what it should be. Against these teams we can’t continue to make those errors. We left that out on the pitch today. We did enough to win that game or at least take it to a shoot-out.  We wanted to be more aggressive on the ball and created more chances than we did on Thursday, we got more ball into the circle. We defended reasonably well at times. I think we stuck to the game plan well this week. We got to move forward to tomorrow and Lee Valley next week. Belgium will be a significant challenge tomorrow. It’s about performance against them then see what we can get out of it. We are making progress but we need to win these games.”


ARGENTINA:- Thomas Santiago [GK]; Juan Catan; Santiago Tarazona;  Maico Casela [C];  Nicoals Dela Torre Matteo Fernandez; Federico Monja; Matias Rey; Lucas Martinez; Thomas Habif; Bautista Capurro  SUBS USED:– Nicolas Keenan [4 mins]; Tomas Demene  [4 mins]; Joaquin Toscani  [5 mins];  Agustin Bugallo  [4 mins]; Tobias  Martins  [4 mins]; Inaki  Minadeo [5 mins];

IRELAND:- Mark Ingram [GK]; Luke Madeley; Matthew Nelson; Daragh Walsh; Kyle  Marshall; Sean Murray [C]; Peter  Mc Kibbin; Michael  Robson; Ben Walker; Louis Rowe; Nicholas Page  SUBS USED:- Jamie Carr (GK) [31 mins];  Tim Cross [mins];  Shane O’Donoghue [mins]; Alistair Empey  [mins]; Jonathan Lynch  [mins]