It took a closing quarter penalty stroke to separate Eire and South Africa in a pulsating FIH Hockey Nations Cup closing that didn’t go Eire’s method in Potchefstroom this afternoon. Eire had nearly double the pictures on purpose that South Africa did, nevertheless it was the leading edge that the Irish had been lacking whereas the hosts had been medical on this high-stakes match.
Eire by no means acquired in entrance in an enthralling encounter, though they managed to get again degree from a 3-1 deficit within the third quarter to make sure a breathless final quarter. Mark Tumilty’s males spent a lot of the match chasing the sport, however with 10 seconds to go within the third quarter, John McKee scored Eire’s third to attract issues degree and provides his crew an opportunity to win this historic, inaugural event.
An early discipline purpose from South Africa’s skipper knocked the stuffing out of the boys in inexperienced after they went behind within the fourth minute. Dayaan Cassiem, who completed the day as participant of the match and participant of the event, discovered house on the fitting of the Irish circle, lifted the ball over his defender’s stick and roofed a bouncing ball to present his facet an early lead.
Eire then dominated play with a passing sport, however South Africa confirmed extra self-discipline immediately than within the encounter between these groups within the group levels. Eire’s greatest probability of the primary quarter got here within the closing minute when Jeremy Duncan obtained together with his again to purpose, spun and flicked in a single motion and Ben Walker nearly snuck his contact beneath the keeper.
Eire continued their passing sport within the second interval, and it was a passing transfer that noticed them win their first nook which Shane O’Donoghue duly scored. The defender’s elegant drag flick was too fast for Hendrik Kriek within the South Arica purpose as he was merely overwhelmed for tempo.
It was a closing for the ages with end-to-end hockey, each groups exhibiting prowess with their overhead supply and one-on-one abilities. Cassiem was within the temper and he created one other second of brilliance when he obtained on the left of Eire’s circle, juggled previous a handful of defenders and dedicated David Fitzgerald in targets earlier than, extremely, hitting recent air and squandering a gilt-edged probability. Cassiem made up for his earlier mistake, although, once more discovering a yard of house, backing into the circle and firing a bullet into the fitting nook on his reverse to present his crew the lead once more.
South Africa can be forgiven for considering they’d earned themselves some respiration house, then, when within the first minute of the second half, Tevin Kok produced the play of the sport after unimaginable talent from Keenan Horne. Horne had managed a brief overhead simply exterior the Eire circle earlier than juggling previous a few defenders. Kok then dinked over his defender’s stick earlier than a double carry simply made it over Fitzgerald’s shoulder to make it three targets to at least one in South Africa’s favour.
Credit score should go to Tumilty’s costs, although. They didn’t panic, persevering with to place stress on the hosts, and when John McKee was denied from shut vary, he did properly to see what most didn’t – a South Africa back-stick within the circle. He opted to make use of Eire’s referral and the penalty nook was duly given. O’Donoghue gave Eire hope when he fired one other rocket into the highest proper nook, this time nearly taking the glove of Kriek with it into the purpose.
The rating might need been a lot greater as both sides appeared to attain the harder targets, and miss the extra clear-cut possibilities, nevertheless it was a second of luck that noticed Eire degree issues up. Jeremy Duncan obtained in midfield and located McKee who drifted into the circle and swept what was in all probability a go for an Eire deflection. As an alternative, he discovered the stick of a South African defender and the ensuing deflection wrong-footed the keeper to make it three apiece going into the ultimate quarter.
However in the long run, it was an Irish mistake that led to the winner for South Africa with 10 minutes to go. South Africa received the ball within the midfield and when Cassiem was by way of on purpose, a foul from behind gave the umpire no alternative however to award a penalty stroke. Mustaphaa Cassiem, Dayaan’s brother, despatched Fitzgerald the unsuitable method and slotted into the fitting nook.
Because the clock ran down, Eire performed with persistence, however South Africa managed the sport properly, thwarting the whole lot Eire threw at them. The hosts had been good worth for his or her first victory over Eire and their first place within the FIH Hockey Nations Cup.
Eire captain Sean Murray was understandably distraught after the match. “Simply gutted, to be trustworthy, actually gutted. Credit score to South Africa, they had been good immediately; they took their possibilities. We put numerous stress on, had some good possibilities as properly however in the long run, it simply comes right down to little particulars and it’s simply bitterly disappointing.”
Even after a devastating loss, Murray spoke of his crew’s vibrant future. “We have now a younger group coming collectively; we’ve made numerous progress in the previous few months, particularly,” he stated. “We have now much more to present, I believe. We simply have to get by way of the subsequent few months and regroup, get again collectively, and push on,” he completed.
Coach Mark Tumilty feels his crew had the successful of the match. “We had sufficient possibilities to get one thing out of that sport however that’s generally the best way that it goes at this degree,” he admitted. “We acquired punished by a really medical South Africa facet. General, it was a wonderful event and one thing for the Senior Males to construct on.”
Tumilty was philosophical after a irritating day: “It’s a disappointing end result, and the chance to play within the FIH Professional League would have been implausible, not only for the senior males’s crew, however for hockey in Eire. Nonetheless, I believe this group of gamers can look again on this week with nice pleasure. We actually have made enormous progress and it’s now a chance to kick on in 2023 and past.”
Eire’s senior ladies are in motion subsequent after they look to go one higher than their male counterparts within the Ladies’s FIH Hockey Nations Cup. That event begins on December eleventh.