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Nelson on mark but Olympic champions on different level

 

By Graham Hamilton

Ireland's men held Rio Olympic gold medallists Argentina to 3-1 in their opening game in the Four Nations series which started yesterday afternoon in Dusseldorf.

New coach Alexander Cox hasn't taken over yet but assistant John Bessels was in charge as they tried to contain the rampant World No.2 side.

The Irish weren't at full strength, with regulars like Eugene Magee, Shane O'Donoghue, Chris Cargo, Mitch Darling and Kirk Shimmins all missing, but it gave some of the fringe players an opportunity to stake a claim.

They had to defend for long periods and after a goalless first quarter, they conceded four penalty corners in the second period as the Argentine pressure gradually built.

Goalkeeper David Harte was beaten from open play and then a penalty corner before half-time and in the fourth quarter Argentina converted another set-piece to go three up.

But there's always plenty of fight in the Green Machine and Lisnagarvey's Matthew Nelson pulled one back right at the death.

There were just three seconds left when the striker burst through and grabbed the consolation goal.

It won't get much easier, as the Irish complete their summer programme with two more games in the German city.

Next up is the hosts, the reigning Olympic bronze medallists Germany this evening (6.15pm), and finally they take on France on Sunday (9.30am).

It may be tough but it's these type of games that help prepare the players for what lies ahead at the forthcoming World Cup finals in November.

Belfast Telegraph

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