IRELAND 5 UKRAINE 1
Ireland Men began their Olympic qualification Pool A campaign this evening with a game against Ukraine. The two sides had faced each other twice during the European Championships II finals in Dublin last summer so were familiar with each other.
Ireland dominated possession early on but as the game wore on, Ukraine grew into the game. Roman Bludov was the busier of the two goalkeepers as Ireland forced numerous penalty corners. Ireland opened the scoring when Ben Johnson scored from a penalty corner in the twenty fifth minute. Darragh Walsh almost added a second three minutes later. He was the creator of the second goal when it did arrive teeing up Lee Cole to score following some good approach play.
Ukraine’s attacking efforts were rewarded a minute later when they were awarded a penalty corner and drag flicker Viacheslav Paziuk got them on the scoreboard. Ireland went straight up the other end and forced a penalty corner which was the final play of the first half. Ukraine successfully repelled it to leave the half-time score Ireland 2 Ukraine 1.
Lee Cole was yellow carded near the end of the half and a Ukrainian player Miahilo Yasinskyi was green carded. Ukraine started strongly in the third quarter and forced a series of long corners in the thirty ninth minute and again in the forty third minute they had a promising move snuffed out by Ireland. Jeremy Duncan managed to turnover the ball and launched a counter-attack which Bludov blocked. End of third quarter still 2-1.
The fourth quarter was a different story entirely. Ireland broke from defence and Jeremy Duncan and Ben Johnson had an interchange of passes. Ireland were awarded a penalty corner and Ukraine asked for a video referral. The video umpire supported the original decision and Ukraine lost their referral. Lee Cole got his second of the game from the penalty corner to make it 3-1 in the 50th minute.
Jeremy Duncan caps off an historic day when he gets his 100th cap by scoring to make it 4-1 to Ireland. This was his 20th international goal. The victory was sealed when Darragh Walsh made it 5-1 with five minutes remaining.
Speaking after the game Jeremy Duncan said
“It’s a very proud day for my family and myself to play 100th game for my country. It’s always good to score a goal but the 5-1 was the most important thing. We have things to work on ahead of tomorrow’s game against Belgium the #2 ranked team in the world. It’s going to be a tough task, as will be the final group game against Japan. If we can keep a clean sheet against Belgium (as our women did) we’ll be in a very good place.”
Luke Madeley said after the game
“We’re just happy to get the first win on the board. Happy that the front six managed to break down Ukraine in that fourth quarter and get the goals. It’s going to be a huge challenge tomorrow against Belgium. We’ve got good experience in the team and we know we have to put this match tonight behind us and focus on the next one. We know that they (Belgium) are world class players so we have to be on top of our game, otherwise we as a team, will be doing a lot of ball chasing tomorrow.”
Earlier today in group A Belgium enjoyed a big 7-0 win over Japan to top the table after one round of games, this makes it vital that Ireland follow up today’s result with a win in game 3 against Japan and hopefully get a decent result against World Ranked #2 Belgium tomorrow evening.
Meanwhile in Group B Spain and Korea played out a 2-2 draw which puts Spain on four points following their 4-1 win over Austria on day 1. Austria are on three points in second spot in that table following their 2-0 win over Egypt in Sunday afternoon’s match. Korea are in third with 2 points, after today’s draw with Spain and Egypt are in fourth place with one point. Egypt had played out a 4-4 draw on day 1.
IRELAND: David Harte, Tim Cross, Shane O’Donoghue, Luke Madeley, John McKee, Matthew Nelson, Peter McKibbin, Sean Murray (C), Jeremy Duncan, Michael Robson, Nicholas Page
SUBS USED: Ben Johnson , Lee Cole, Kyle Marshall, Jonathan Lynch, Darragh Walsh, Sam Hyland
UKRAINE:- Roman Bludov, Mykhailo Yasinskyi , Viacheslav Paziuk, Dmytro Luppa (C), Vitalii Shevchuk, Maksym Onofriiuk, Bohdan Kovalenko, Andrii Koshlenko, Olksandr Solomianyi, Oleksandr Boiko, Volodymyr Kaplinskyi
SUBS USED: Bohdan Tovstolytkin (GK), Dmytro Hrubyi, Iurii Moroz, Oleksii Popov, Volodymyr Zhmereniuk, Volodymy Kostechko, Oleksandr Yasinskyi