Heartbreak for Ireland hockey team

Heartbreak for Ireland hockey team

Ireland's Olympic dream died in agonising fashion at Belfield today as they were undone by a Korean winner in the final seconds of the Electric Ireland FIH Road to London final, going down 3-2.

With the game tied a 2-2 with nine seconds left, Seung-Il Lee crashed a free hit into the Irish circle, with Nam Yong Lee claiming a goalward touch.

Umpire Murray Grime initially awarded a long corner but Korea appealed and he sent it upstairs to the video umpire, who confirmed the goal's legitimacy.

It was a sucker-punch for an Irish side who had twice led against the world number-six side with President Michael D Higgins among another sell-out Belfield crowd, with most of the players leaving the field in tears.

After a tentative opening from both sides, Ireland got the go-ahead goal on 14 minutes when Peter Caruth swept home a rebound after John Jermyn's drag-flick had been saved by Myung Ho Lee.

But Korea always looked dangerous on the break, with Young-Jin Kim hitting the post before Lee beat three Irish tacklers in the D and disguised his slip under Irish goalkeeper David Harte for 1-1 five minutes before half-time.

As they had against Malaysia 24 hours earlier, Ireland didn't press the panic button and continued to work their patterns with Paul Gleghorne and Andy McConnell outstanding in defence while Mikey Watt led the effort up front.

And they surged in front again on 55 minutes, again from a corner as Cockram failed to get a hold of his drag-flick but it still found its way to the bottom corner.

It was Korea's turn to feel the heat but they again trusted their attackers with the inspirational Lee winning a penalty stroke - again given after a video referral, this time from Ireland - after he was impeded a couple of times en route to goal.

Hyun Woo Lee sent Harte the wrong way from the flick spot for 2-2, and Korea smelled blood as Jong Hyun Jang was twice denied a goal in the last 10 minutes by superb interventions from Gleghorne and Irish skipper Ronan Gormley.

But Lee got the vital touch in the final seconds to send the Koreans into raptures and leave the Irish wondering what might have been.

IRELAND: D Harte (GK), J Jackson, G McCabe, R Gormley (c), M Watt, E Magee, I Sloan, M Darling, D Ames, P Gleghorne, S Loughrey.

Rolling subs: C Cargo, J Jermyn, P Caruth, A McConnell, T Cockram.

KOREA: M-H Lee (GK); D-K Oh, N-Y Lee, S-I Lee; S-H Yoon, H-S You, J-Bok Cha; E-S Hong, Y-J Kim, J-H Jang, H-W Nam.

Rolling subs: J-H Seo (capt), W-K Yeo, M-K Kang, H-S Hyun, S-H Cho.

Umpires: M Grime (Australia) & G Simmonds (South Africa).

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