Olympic hopes alive as Ireland secure a draw

Olympic hopes alive as Ireland secure a draw

Ireland 1 Korea 1

Ireland eked out a draw with tournament favourites Korea to keep their hopes of Olympic qualification alive at the Electric Ireland FIH Road to London at a sold-out Belfield last night.

David Ames put the hosts in the lead on 27 minutes in front of the biggest crowd seen for a hockey international at UCD in modern times, but Hyun Woo Nam drag-flicked home a second-half equaliser for the world number six Koreans.

Ireland started nervously with a raft of defensive errors and spent most of the opening 10 minutes down to 10 men, as David Ames took a green card and Andy McConnell yellow, while Ronan Gormley was lucky to stay on the pitch after cleaning out Hye Sung Hyun.

But Korea could only fashion half-chances during that period and the were soon down to 10 themselves after Jong Bok Cha was yellow-carded for felling John Jermyn.

The hosts won the game's first penalty corner, and Jermyn's drag hit one post while Peter Caruth's follow-up dinged the other upright.

Korea heeded that warning and won a set-piece of their own, but Jong Hyun Jang's drag-flick missed the target while Ireland goalkeeper and man of the match David Harte denied Nam Yong Lee's close-range touch goalwards.

Ireland weren't getting the rub of the green from the umpires but Eugene Magee's quick thinking won them a second penalty corner on 27 minutes, leading to the opening goal.

And it was worth a waiting for, as a pre-rehearsed move saw Conor Harte fake to drag as the ball was switched left to Timmy Cockram, who found a diving David Ames at the back post to redirect to the roof of the net.

Korea came flying out of the traps in the second half though, winning a clutch of corners. David Harte batted awat Jong Hyun Jang's drag-flick but was powerless to stop Hyun Woo Nam dragging low to his left for 1-1 after 41 minutes.

Ireland continued to fall foul of some fussy umpiring with Ames spending further time on the sideline following a yellow card for a push, while Ian Sloan and Mikey Watt both took green for backchat.

It was Cookstown teenager Sloan who nearly won it with a mercurial effort with eight minutes to go, beating four players en route to the baseline before flicking high over Myong Ho Lee, but his effort just cleared the crossbar.

The hosts then lost Conor Harte to injury as he took a sickening smack to the head off a mishit Korean cross, but the visitors had largely run out of ideas after Nam Yong Lee swept their best chance over the bar.

With Ireland's superior goal difference, a draw suits them as they head into Thursday's clash with Chile and the crucial showdown with Malaysia on Saturday.

IRELAND: D Harte; R Gormley (capt), C Harte, J Jackson, P Gleghorne; A McConnell, I Sloan, D Ames; M Watt, M Darling, E Magee (capt).

Rolling subs: G McCabe, J Jermyn, P Caruth, T Cockram, S Loughrey.

KOREA: Myung Ho Lee (GK); Dae Keun Oh, Nam Yong Lee, Sueng Il Lee; Sung Hoon Yoon, Hyo Sik You, Jong Bok Cha; Young Jin Kim, Johg Hyun Jang, Hyun Woo Nam.

Rolling subs: Jong Ho Seo (capt), Woon Kon Yeo, Moon Kweon Kang, Hye Sung Hyun, Suk Hoon Cho.

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

*****

Electric Ireland FIH Road to London Olympic qualifier, Day 3

Ireland 1 (D Ames) Korea 1 (HW Nam)

Russia 4 (A Plantonov 2, P Golubev, A Zhirkov) Chile 3 (J Richter, J

Berzcely, P Gajardo)

Malaysia 5 (Tengku, Hafifi, Amin, Razie, Sukri) Ukraine 1 (Paziuk)

Thursday: Russia v Ukraine, 1pm; Malaysia v Korea, 3.30pm; Ireland v Chile, 6pm.

Alan Good, Belfield

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