Men’s international test match
Ireland 2 (J McKee, J Duncan) Austria 0
Ireland made it three wins in succession at the Sport Ireland Campus as second quarter goals from John McKee and Jeremy Duncan saw off world number 19 side Austria 2-0.
The tie was also the 100th cap for captain Sean Murray and he was delighted to receive the honour on home turf seven years after making his debut, also in Dublin.
“It’s a bit surreal. We play across the waters so much so doing it at home is so special, especially for the 100th,” the former Lisnagarvey man – now plying his trade in Belgium – said afterwards.
“Every cap is as special but it was nice to play freely today and get a win with the team. Our performances keep progressing and winning is certainly a habit so we want to keep that going as long as possible. It would be really good to go to France with that momentum.”
Indeed, it was Ireland’s eighth win in 10 outings this summer and Murray says these capped fixtures are giving the young Irish squad a strong matchplay grounding for those qualifiers.
“When we play the teams below us, there’s potential to lose far more than you gain so it gives the extra incentive to win. With the nature and experience of our squad, we need to get used to seeing out games [like this] well and putting the foot on the throat of the teams ranked below us. Today, we learned a bit about playing it smart when we were two goals up, not playing direct. It is a work in progress.”
He also paid tribute to Jaime Carr who recorded on a clean sheet in his 50th international: “Brilliant for him. It’s difficult for a goalkeeper to amass 50 caps – it’s not like a defender who can be the fourth best and still play every game.
“He is a world-renowned goalkeeper; everyone of the players in the Belgian league [where he is based] knows him because of that and it is a really strong area for us.”
On the field, Ireland had the edge in play for the majority of the tie with Daragh Walsh and McKee firing early shots on the backhand wide.
Michael Robson and Rory Patterson also had bashes at goal before McKee broke the deadlock with a low drag-flick through Mateuez Szymczyk – his third goal in successive fixtures.
And it was two at half-time when Ben Johnson’s extravagant turn on the baseline opened the door for Michael Robson to shoot goalward; he didn’t get a full sweep on it but the direction was good enough for Duncan to swoop and complete the job.
The third quarter saw the Green Machine in control but not able to capitalise further with McKee and Callum Robson looking dangerous. Austria held out and had their best moments in the closing few minutes but Kyle Marshall and Carr saved off the line to keep the clean sheet in place.
The two sides meet again on Sunday morning at 9.30am with Ireland finishing their series on Tuesday against Chile.
Earlier in the day, the Irish women drew 2-2 with France in an uncapped fixture.
Ireland: J Carr, L Witherow, T Cross, J McKee, D Walsh, C Robson, K Marshall, S Murray, M McNellis, J Duncan, N Page
Subs: K O’Dea, M Robson, B Walker, S Hyland, B Johnson, R Patterson, M Ingram
Austria: M Szymczyk, T Mayer, O Binder, P Kaltenböck, D Fröhlich, F Unterkircher, F Lindengrun, N Wellan, L Thörnblom, X Hasun, O Kern
Subs: C Soldat, B Kölbl, J Winkler, B Valas, M Frey, L Rizzi
Umpires: I Strange, S McAllister
Fixture schedule (all at Sport Ireland Campus, Abbotstown)
Sunday, August 7: Ireland v Austria, 9.30am
Tuesday, August 9: Ireland v Chile, 7.45pm
Women (uncapped fixture)
Monday, August 8: Ireland v France, 5.30pm