Ireland staged a remarkable fight to comeback from 4-0 down to France early in the 2nd half to claim a truly amazing 6-4 victory and claim 7th place at the World League Semi-Finals in Rotterdam.
Ireland’s World League adventure appeared to be coming to a disappointing end as France racked up a 3-0 first half lead with clinical goals from Genestet, Deront & Sevestre coming in a frantic 9 minute spell that saw France’s clear dominance rewarded in a first half that also featured a considerable delay as torrential rain interrupted proceedings.
Andrew Meredith’s half time team talk initially looked to have fallen on deaf ears as within 90 seconds of the restart France looked to have Ireland dead and buried as Martin-Brisac pounced to give the French what looked like an unassailable 4-0 lead.
Even the most loyal of Green Machine supporters must have felt that this game had already slipped away as Conor Harte grabbed Ireland’s first goal in the 42nd minute following up his own rebounded penalty corner to give Ireland a glimmer of hope.
The hope raised even more a mere 90 seconds later when Timothy Cockram fired a penalty corner home to make the score line 4-2 and breathe extra life into Ireland’s comeback mission. It didn’t take long for expectations to reach fever pitch as Ireland grabbed their 3rd goal in 5 minutes following brilliant play by Peter Caruth to set up Chris Cargo to tap home and reduce the deficit to one.
At this point, the Green Machine were in full flow with confidence seeping right from Davey Harte in the Ireland goal though the spine of the team. The comeback was complete when the ever reliable Peter Caruth won Ireland a penalty corner off Martin-Brisac’s clumsy challenge in the 63rd minute and young UCD man Shane O’Donoghue powered home a delightful drag flick to send the Rotterdam crowd into a spin as Ireland pulled the game level at 4-4.
Remarkably the Green Machine were not finished yet as France were reduced to 9 men initially as Verrier and Sevestre headed to the side-line for yellow card infringements and Ireland went in search of the winning goal. They only had to wait a minute for that moment to come as Conor Harte rocketed a low drag into the French goal to give Ireland a 5-4 lead and send the travelling Green Machine fans into delirium.
And still the Green Machine were not finished as they finally sealed the game when the impressive Caruth won a bully and fired the ball home following moments of madness involving a French outfield player, playing in a bibbed shirt in place of the subbed goalkeeper, making an unbelievable save with his foot which was awarded as a penalty stoke but overturned on video referral to the bully that resulted in Caruth grabbing Ireland’s 6th of the game.
The remarkable fight back was completed and as the final hooter went, Irish players celebrated wildly at a result and game that those who witnessed tonight will never forget for as long as they live.
Speaking to FIH TV after the game, Irish player Conor Harte was naturally delighted with the outcome following a shaky first half “I think that was our worse 40 minutes of hockey in this tournament and to come back from 4-0 down in International Hockey is fantastic. It just shows great team spirit and that’s exactly what the Green Machine is about.”
The result tonight means that Ireland finish in 7th position at the World League Semi-Finals
Ireland 6 (42’ C. Harte, 44’ Cockram, 47’ Cargo, 56’ O’Donoghue, 63’ C. Harte, 68’ Caruth) beat France 4 (12’ Genestet, 28’ Deront, 30’ Sevestre, 37’ Martin-Brisac)