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Irish hoping to give Lee taste of own medicine

Alexander Cox
Alexander Cox

By Graham Hamilton

Ireland will this afternoon come face-to-face with the man who broke their hearts seven years ago by denying them a place at the 2012 Olympics.

The Irish were just eight seconds away from securing a place at the London showpiece when Nam Yong Lee got the slightest of touches to a crash ball into the circle and the outcome was that the Asians claimed the ticket instead.

Now the roles could be reversed this afternoon (2.30pm) - the Green Machine want to wipe away that nightmare by turning the tables on the Koreans and deny them the chance of a place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

There are four survivors from that fateful day back in March 2012 - Ulster trio John Jackson, Paul Gleghorne and Eugene Magee, and Munster goalkeeper David Harte.

Lee's last-gasp goal left them in tears and still haunts them to this day.

It happened when Cookstown's David Ames conceded a foul, and when the free hit was smashed into the circle, Lee was on hand to get the deflection past Harte.

Lee is now the Korean captain and will lead them out at Le Touquet for a game which will not only secure a place in tomorrow's decider, but also guarantee a slot in the final Tokyo eliminator - a two-legged affair against opposition which won't be known until after the five continental Championships have been completed.

Irish head coach Alexander Cox and his players watched Korea scrape through their crossover quarter-final against Egypt on Thursday, needing an equaliser with just 20 seconds left to force the shoot-out, which they won.

He will have noted how easy the Koreans made the penalty runs look, and there's every chance he'll have his players practicing them too in case today's game ends all square.

Hosts France start favourites in the other semi-final against Scotland.

Meanwhile, Ulsterman Michael Robson will fall short of his 100th cap by the time the tournament ends tomorrow.

The former Annadale and Lisnagarvey midfielder, now based in Germany with Krefeld, is on 97 caps - which means that today's semi-final and tomorrow's game, which could be the final or the third-place play-off, will take him one short of the century.

That means he will have to wait until the build-up games for the Europeans in August to join the ton-up club.

Earlier this week, fellow Ulsterman Matthew Bell won his 100th cap, which was presented to him by Banbridge colleague Eugene Magee, and in front of his proud parents who were attending the game.

Yesterday: Seventh/eighth play-off: Singapore 1 (S Noor) Ukraine 3 (A Koshelenko, V Chevchuk, I Moroz); Fifth/sixth play-off: Chile 2 (S Richter 2) Egypt 3 (A Gamal, M Edris, A Ibrahim)

Today: Semi-finals: Ireland v Korea (2.30pm), France v Scotland (5pm)

Tomorrow: Third/fourth play-off (2.30pm), Final (5pm)

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