Ireland’s Green Machine got back on track and booked a Quarter Final showdown with fellow Europeans, Poland following a hard fought victory vs South Africa in hot & humid Quilmes, Argentina today. Ireland Coach Andrew Meredith grabbed his first competitive win having watched his new side lose their first two games in Champions Challenge 1 vs Argentina & Japan despite his team showing promising signs in both games.
In a frantic first half, Ireland grabbed the lead after only 8 minutes when Andy McConnell scrambled the ball home following good play from Mitch Darling. South Africa were back on level terms at 1-1 within 5 minutes though as Ireland failed to clear following a penalty corner and Miguel Da Garca pounced to score. The remainder of the half was played in a fast and furious manner around the centre of the field with neither team really opening the other up. The two best chances of the half both fell to Ireland though with Timothy Cockram & Michael Watt going close for the Green Machine before the sides headed for the break all square.
The second half began with a short delay as one of the goals required some minor repair but it wasn’t long before both sides were back in the thick of the action with Ireland grabbing the lead for the second time in the 42nd minute through John Jermyn on a short corner variation. South Africa as expected came back strong following the goal yet Ireland’s defence stood strong including during a five minute spell when Ireland were reduced to 10 men as Darling was sent to the bench. Despite significant South African pressure, Ireland went on to extend the advantage when Conor Harte made the game virtually safe at 3-1 from a penalty corner in the 62nd minute. Ireland played the remaining 8 minutes out efficiently to claim a deserved victory.
Speaking after the game a delighted Ireland Coach, Andrew Meredith said ‘The result was a good reward for the players who have been improving half by half, game by game. Their work rate in the extreme heat here was outstanding and the result was just reward for their efforts’
Today’s victory means Ireland finish 3rd in Pool B this evening and will face 2nd in Pool A, Poland in the Quarter Finals on Thursday 29th November 2012 at 5:30pm GMT
Ireland 3 (McConnell, Jermyn, Harte) beat South Africa 1 (Da Garca)