That was someday for Irish Hockey. Both theNational Men and National Women’s teams of Irish Hockey won their quarter finals of their world ranking Champions Challenge I Tournaments today.
Ireland’s women beat World Number 8’s Korea 2-1 to cause the biggest upset of the tournament while the men took it all the way to extra time against France where they beat them 3-0 on a shoot out after normal time ended 2-2. Ireland women will play the winners of Belgium or Spain while the men will square up against Korea or Japan this Saturday.
Ireland beat France on Shoot-out at FIH Men’s Champions Challenge 1 (Kuantan, Malaysia):
Ireland’s men secured their spot in the semi-finals when they secured a win over France in dramatic style today in Malaysia at the Champions Challenge I tournament. Ireland opened early marksman Alan Sothern getting the conversion in the 2nd minute from a penalty corner strike to put his side 1-0 up.
The remainder of the first half was scoreless although both sides were busy looking for opportunities. France equalised in the 44th minute thanks to Guillaume Derong before taking the lead for the first time in this match after Martin Genestet converted for Les Bleus in the 50th minute. Ireland remained confident and with just 6 minutes to spare Stephen Dowds converted off a penalty corner to push the side all the way to a penalty shoot-out.
Ireland closed out the match in dramatic fashion after both sides missed their first penalties before Ireland went on to convert a further 3 to win on a penalty shoot out 3-0, Eugene Magee, Peter Brown and Alan Sothern all getting on the score sheet.
Ireland beat Korea 2-1 at Women’s Champions Challenge 1 (Glasgow, Scotland):
Ireland’s women caused the biggest upset of the Champions Challenge I tournament in Scotland today beating top ranked side Korea to secure a semi-final spot with a deserved 2-1 win. Ireland scored early in the 3rd minute after securing a penalty corner, Anna O’Flanagan’s initial strike was saved and Katie Mullan reacted swiftly to convert the rebound making it 1-0.
Korea remained confident throughout the first half testing Ireland at times but a calm and composed Ireland dealt ably with the threats to enjoy the half time break and a chance to reconvene with a 1-0 lead.
Ireland came out attacking once again showing early intent including a number of penalty corners but Korea’s persistence and waves of attack finally paid dividends with a well-executed penalty corner routine which saw the penalty spot deflection from Han H fly over the keeper to pull her side back onto 1-1 level terms with Ireland. Ireland’s defence were tested on numerous occasions in the second half but stellar performances from the side marshalled by Emma Gray in goals kept Ireland steady until they were ready to strike once again. And strike they did this time Anna O’Flanagan giving a lesson in executing a straight strike from a penalty corner in the 56th minute to make it 2-1. Ireland continued to have a number of chances to make it three but the final touch just evaded them and the match closed out 2-1 to Ireland securing them a semi-final spot against either Belgium or Spain this Saturday.
Commenting after the match Irish Hockey Women’s Coach Smith was delighted but focussing on Saturday “We were delighted with the result, I thought the girls held the position of the ball better than we did against USA stringing good passes together. The defence were immense and there was some great goalkeeping from Emma Gray. Our plans are to get the girls nice and recovered now with a training session tomorrow and focusing on preparation for the Saturday match.”