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Irish aim to ramp up Olympics bid by getting some revenge on Korea

Bad memories: John Jackson is dejected after 2012 heartache
Bad memories: John Jackson is dejected after 2012 heartache

By Graham Hamilton

Ireland are to face Korea in the FIH Series semi-final tomorrow in France - a game which catapults the winner into the two-legged final Tokyo Olympic eliminator in the autumn.

And the Asian side will bring back nightmares for four Irish players in particular - John Jackson, Eugene Magee, Paul Gleghorne and David Harte - who are the only survivors from the team left in tears seven years ago when a goal eight seconds from the end denied them a place at London 2012.

The players unashamedly broke down and cried when the chance of playing in their first Olympics was cruelly snatched from them, and Jackson - skipper at that time - fought back the tears immediately after the game.

"If it's not the London Olympics, it's going to be the next one, for sure," he said.

"This team has taken a big step forward, and it's never going to take a step backwards again.

"We'll take it on the chin but we'll be back, mark my words."

And Jackson was right. The Irish did make the next Olympics, in Rio, and they are determined to make it to Tokyo too.

That means turning the tables on Korea and wiping out that memory that still haunts them.

Korea booked their semi-final place in Le Touquet by beating Egypt on penalty runs after a 2-2 draw, while Scotland won the other quarter-final 1-0 against Chile and now face France in the last four.

Yesterday: Quarter-finals: Scotland 1 (C Golden) Chile 0; Korea 2 (J Lee, M Jung) Egypt 2 (A Elhakim, W Metwalli) Korea won 3-0 on penalty runs.

Today: Seventh/eighth play-off: Singapore v Ukraine (2.30pm). Fifth/sixth play-off: Chile v Egypt.

Tomorrow: Semi-finals: Ireland v Korea (2.30pm); France v Scotland (5pm).

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