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Gleghorne brothers ready to do battle for World Cup survival

Family fortunes: The Gleghorne brothers Mark (pictured) and Paul face each other again but this time with World Cup survival at stake
Family fortunes: The Gleghorne brothers Mark (pictured) and Paul face each other again but this time with World Cup survival at stake
Paul Gleghorne

By Graham Hamilton

Ireland defender Paul Gleghorne will have a simple message for his fellow defenders ahead of their final World Cup Pool B game against England tomorrow - don't give my big brother Mark the chance to punish us from penalty corners.

The Antrim siblings, of course, have already faced each other numerous times since striker Mark made the switch from Ireland to England while defender Paul stayed with the Green Machine, but this is arguably the most important one for both.

That's because whoever loses tomorrow (1.30pm) will be eliminated from the world finals in Bhubaneswar and face an early flight home after a mere three games.

Both nations find themselves in this predicament because neither could break down what has become known as the great wall of China, with the Asian side forcing a 2-2 draw with England and a 1-1 draw with Ireland as a result of their ultra defensive tactics.

But it's the English who occupy bottom place in the pool on goal difference as they lost 3-0 to Australia whereas the Irish only lost 2-1.

If tomorrow's big game ends level, the Irish will survive and reach the second phase of the competition, whereas the English will be depending on world champions Australia beating China by three or four goals.

The fact that game finishes half an hour before the Ireland-England clash means at least both will know exactly what they need to do.

If Ireland were to beat England, then Danny Kerry's lads will be eliminated and the Green Machine would progress, probably as the second placed team in the pool, providing Australia don't lose to China which is highly unlikely.

But if England win, and it's a possibility bearing in mind they are ranked higher than Alexander Cox's lads, then it's the Irish who will be heading home early.

That's quite a few permutations, but one thing that is for sure is that the Gleghorne brothers will be going head to head with an awful lot at stake.

Paul, a stalwart of the Irish defence, wins his 218th Irish cap tomorrow while Mark (above) goes on to 233, made up of 80 with Ireland, 48 with Great Britain and 105 with England.

He showed what he can do with a superb penalty corner conversion against China last week.

Irish captain David Harte remained upbeat after the disappointment of not turning their pressure into goals against China on Tuesday.

"We know what England's threats are and where we can exploit them," he said. "We are taking our two days recovery, getting our game plan ready and intend to go all guns blazing for the last pool game."

Striker Eugene Magee admitted it was frustrating not to get the win they deserved against China.

"They were resolute and hard to break down," he said. "We created enough chances but didn't take them, so we'll move on to the next game."

England coach Kerr was also upbeat despite the 3-0 loss to Australia.

"We competed well, particularly in the first half, but credit to Australia for taking their chances in the fourth quarter with some quality goals," he said.

Yesterday it was Pool D and Germany crushed the fancied Netherlands 4-1 while Malaysia and Pakistan drew 1-1.

Netherlands had taken the lead through Valentin Verga but Mathias Muller and Lukas Windfeder put away penalty corners to turn the game around.

And when the Dutch failed to convert their set-pieces, they were further punished when Marco Miltkau and Christopher Ruhr scored in the final quarter.

It was Muhammed Atiq who put Pakistan ahead in the all-Asian clash in the final quarter, but Faizal Saari levelled five minutes from the end to keep alive their slim chances of avoiding elimination.

Pool C concludes today with Spain taking on New Zealand (11.30am) and Olympic champions Argentina facing France (1.30pm).

And so Ireland or England - or both if results go the right way - will know who they are likely to meet in the second phase play-offs on Monday.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Sunday's Kirk Cup semi-final between Annadale and Cookstown will go ahead at Stormont Playball (1.30pm) and not at Shaw's Bridge, which is unavailable.

Banbridge will await the winners in the final on Boxing Day.

Belfast Telegraph


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