Ireland’s Green Machine marched into the Champions Challenge 1 Semi-Final in Quilmes, Argentina today with a convincing 4-0 Quarter Final win over European neighbours Poland.
Ireland, fresh from a 3-1 victory over South Africa on Tuesday started brightly and dominated possession in the early part of the contest but faced a Polish Keeper, Arkadiusz Matuszak, in inspired form. In a short space of time he made consecutive top drawer saves following strikes at goal from Ireland’s Caruth, Watt & O’Donohue.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the field, David Harte in the Irish goal was making his 100th appearance for Ireland and despite being a spectator for large parts was called on to make important saves as Poland found their feet mid-way through the half. Surprisingly the half came to a close at 0-0 with Ireland on top but not being able to find a way past the magnificent Polish Keeper.
Andrew Meredith’s Ireland began the second half where they left off the first, maintaining the majority of possession and creating the most clear cut chances. Finally in the 45th minute, the resolute Polish defense was beaten as the ball fell to Ireland’s Michael Watt to slot home and give the Green Machine a deserved 1-0 lead. Ireland, in the ascendancy and playing some great hockey didn’t take long to double the advantage as Conor Harte (twin brother of Ireland’s 100th Cap goalkeeper David Harte) finished delightfully on a penalty corner variation in the 50th minute. Poland were rattled at this point and within 4 minutes the game was made seemingly safe as Conor Harte grabbed his second and Ireland’s 3rd from yet another penalty corner.
Ireland maintained an exceptionally high level of performance throughout the game and as the encounter drew to a close in the 63rd minute, Ireland’s Michael Watt found UCD man Shane O’Donohue who fired a low shot into the corner to make the score line 4-0 and put some icing on a fantastic Irish performance.
There was still time in the final moments of the game for Poland to miss a gilt edged chance to get on the score sheet themselves, but failed to score from 1 metre out. It would have been no more than a consolation for the Poles however it meant a great deal to Ireland’s 100 Cap goalkeeper David Harte who fittingly gets to enjoy a clean sheet on his momentous day.
Speaking following the fantastic Irish performance, Ireland Coach, Andrew Meredith said “It is a great result after a frustrating first half, where we failed to convert our dominance. It was good to see after a much more clinical performance in the last 3rd that we were able to convert our authority in the scoreboard.”
The Green Machine will now face either Canada or Argentina in Saturday’s Champions Challenge 1 Semi-Final at 2PM GMT
Ireland 4 (Watt, C. Harte, C. Harte, O’Donohue) beat Poland 0