Ireland have done all they can to secure their spot at the Rio Olympics with a polished 4-1 victory over world number 12 Malaysia today in 5th place play-off match at FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final 2015 in Antwerp, Belgium. Goals from Good, Caruth, Sothern and Darling put the game out of reach of a pacey Malaysian side that struggled to take their chances.
The Green Machine got off to the perfect start with a goal each for Good and Caruth in the opening 10 minutes. Malaysia enjoyed the bulk of possession but pressure from the Irish defence and superb goal keeping from Harte meant the sides went into the half 2-0 to the Irish.
2 clear missed chances, one on open goal, by Malaysia could have proved the turning point of the match but the Irish looked more clinical with their chances throughout. Mitch Darling with a precise backhand pass expertly setting Sothern up for a tap in front of goal in the 40th minute. Malaysia earned a goal back in the 55th minute thanks to a deflected shot by Faiz from a training-ground PC routine.
Steady heads and maturity came to the forefront for the Irish as the clock wound down and this time it was the turn of Darling to get on the score sheet and make it 4-1 from a diving deflected shot by O’Donoghue.
The victory earns Ireland a 5th place finish at Hockey World League in Antwerp, having beaten 2 teams ranked higher than them along the way. But more importantly the 5th spot gives Ireland every chance of going to Rio. For the Green Machine to not compete at the Olympics 3 things must occur:
Brazil finish 6th or higher at the Pan Am games and claim their host spot
New Zealand win the Oceania Continental Championships
Egypt win the African Continental Championships