Silver for Ireland but they can still hit Olympic goal
Published 27/06/2011 | 04:22
There's a genuine belief now that Ireland's men have enough in their armoury to gate-crash a place at next year's London Olympics.
And if anybody wanted proof of their ambitions, you only needed to look at the dejection on the players' faces after "only" claiming silver in the Four Nations tournament in Dublin over the last week.
The Irish, remember, came into the event as the lowest-ranked of the four participants (they're currently 18th on the world ladder).
Yet they crushed both China and France with some aplomb, and then lost narrowly twice to former world champions Pakistan, 2-1 each time, including in Saturday night's final at Belfield.
"I'm pleased with how the last week has gone for us, and we have built good momentum for the rest of the summer," coach Paul Revington said. "In relation to the final game with Pakistan, yes we were outplayed in the second half and I was disappointed at giving away so many penalty corners.
"But the big advantage for us was that we finished with our main penalty corner taker John Jermyn as the tournament's leading goal scorer with five, while goalkeeper David Harte was the Player of the Tournament - two good areas to have strength in."
Jermyn's 61st goal in 118 appearances got Ireland back into contention, but Sohail Abbas fizzed in two majestic corners to earn Pakistan the gold medal - the Irish cause wasn't helped by having Stuart Loughrey and Bruce McCandless sin-binned.
Ireland's build-up to the FIH Champions Challenge II in Lille (July 2-10) continues with five games against Egypt and China this week (four full internationals and one A game), at Belfield.
Ireland A play Egypt this afternoon (4pm) while the full international side then lines up against China four hours later.
Saturday's results: Ireland 1, Pakistan 2; France 2 China 3. Final standings: 1 Pakistan, 2 Ireland, 3 China, 4 France.
Today's fixtures: Ireland A v Egypt (4pm); Ireland v China (8pm).