HOCKEY: Ireland men still harbour World Cup final qualification dreams

Johnny McKee
Johnny McKee

Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup finals are still within reach in spite of losing 2-1 to Spain yesterday in a World League 3 quarter-final.

A win would have secured the men in green a place in the World Cup finals, but as the top five teams go through there remains another chance.

Ireland are now in the 5th-8th place classification - leaving them two wins away form a place in the finals.

Eugene Magee, a constant threat throughout, manufactured a superb chance for himself with a blistering solo run down the wing and into the circle but his final reverse shot skimmed past the post. Ireland edged the tie going into the half with David Harte hardly called upon in the opening 30 minutes.

But the Spanish appeared to come out with a bit more fire in the second half and Harte had to make a smart save following a crash ball into the circle.

Spain won their first PC in the 37th minute and brave first running by Johnny McKee saw him block the shot but land hard on his shoulder, resulting in a stretcher being called for the young Banbridge player.

In spite of two great saves by Harte from the following PC, Ricardo Sanchez managed to flick the rebound into the net to give his side the lead.

Ireland got their just-rewards in the 44th minute from a powerful drag flick by Alan Sothern to bring the game level.

But just a minute later Spain had retaken the lead with a mistrapped PC sent crashing back into the circle for the free Alvaro Iglesias to sweep in at the back post.