Ireland’s World Cup hopes ended by Argentina demolition

IRELAND will be once again on the outside looking in at a major tournament after Argentina dashed their slim hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Cup with a crushing 4-0 win in Quilmes.

A disastrous 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic on Thursday left the Irish needing to defeat the hosts by three to qualify for yesterday’s final, but Argentina’s prowess at short-corner time proved the difference.

Mario Almada’s field goal got them off the mark on 11 minutes, and corner strikes from Pedro Ibarra and Lucas Cammareri killed Irish hopes inside 24 minutes. Ibarra added another from the penalty spot in the second period.

That spoiled a noteworthy day for Graham Shaw, who won his 150th cap, though Ireland did finish on a high yesterday by claiming the bronze medal with a 2-1 win over the Czechs.

That came courtesy of a Timmy Cockram golden goal six minutes into extra time, after Stepan Bernatek had cancelled out David Ames’ opener.

Domestically, the women’s Irish Hockey League took centre stage but it wasn’t a good weekend for Munster’s three representatives, all losing in Dublin. Áine Connery came back to haunt her former UCC team-mates in Hermes’ 2-0 win over the students yesterday, breaking the deadlock on 55 minutes when she forced home a rebound after Karen Olden had saved smartly from Jenny Burke.

College poured forward in search of an equaliser, allowing Niamh Atcheler to exploit the space with a pinpoint aerial to Gillian Pinder, whose strike beat Olden via a deflection off College skipper Audrey O’Flynn.

Pegasus now control the pool after they ground out a superb 2-1 win over champions Loreto in Belfast. The latter’s Nikki Symmons had negated Arlene Boyles’ opener, but a Michelle Harvey drag-flick settled the issue.

The bonus point keeps Loreto in touch, but the holders will hardly be pleased to be still winless after two games of their title defence, and they must get a positive result against UCC in Cork next month to stay in the hunt for a semi-final spot.

Old Alex also put themselves in contention for one of those berths with a 2-1 win at Randalstown.

In Pool A, three second-half goals helped Railway Union win the clash of the Munster and Leinster champions with a 3-0 defeat of Cork Harlequins.

Cecelia Joyce’s double and a Jean McDonnell corner strike ensured they claimed their second successive bonus point, and they already have a three-point lead at the summit of the pool.

Pembroke Wanderers lie second after Karen Hales potted a double against her former Cork C of I team-mates to help them secure a thrilling 3-2 win.

She claimed the opener inside two minutes from the game’s first corner, but Sinéad Connery equalised for C of I in the third quarter.

Three corner chances went begging for the visitors, before Alice Ward restored the Pembroke lead with 12 minutes left. Mel Ryan nailed a corner to level once more, only for Hales to crash home the winner from another set-piece six minutes from time.

Ards tied 1-1 with depleted Ballymoney in the Ulster derby. Katy Fraser opened the scoring inside five minutes from a corner but Ards inability to add to that tally from eight further corners cost them dear.

’Money fought back in the second half and levelled inside a minute of the turnaround when Rachel Lightbody touched in Katie Mullan’s pass.

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