Ireland run riot as France floored

Madness reigned in Rotterdam on Saturday night as Ireland hit six unanswered goals in half an hour to retrieve a four-goal deficit against France and salvage the wreckage of their World League 3 campaign with an unlikely 6-4 victory.

A narrow defeat to Spain on Friday had ended their hopes of qualifying for next summer’s World Cup through this route, but the green machine still had to beat the French to confirm seventh place — their pre-tournament seeding.

They looked like a side who had left it all out there against the Spanish, as a listless first 40 minutes saw them go four goals down.

Martin Genestet’s beautifully arced squeeze shot and a clattering reverse from Guillaume Deront put France in control, before Lucas Sevestre rattled home a drag-flick for a 3-0 half-time lead.

When Simon Martin-Brisac beat Conor Harte with a lovely dink before getting an athletic one-handed chop to lift the ball over the advancing David Harte, it looked like France were about to better their biggest ever win over Ireland, a 6-1 thumping in Dublin in 2009.

But from the ridiculous, the sublime: Conor Harte rammed home a third phase corner and inside 30 seconds, Timmy Cockram winged in a drag-flick to breathe life into the Irish challenge.

Peter Caruth’s pacy baseline raid setup Chris Cargo for number three and after Shane O’Donoghue levelled it with a rocket of a set-piece to the top corner, France lost the plot.

With two of their men in the sin-bin, Harte pounced again from another corner — Ireland converted four of their five on the day — prompting the French to withdraw their goalkeeper in favour of a kicking back.

He made a superb save with his unprotected feet to deny Ireland late on. A penalty stroke was initially given but chalked off after video review, only for Caruth to react first to the resulting ‘bully’, robbing a French defender before controlling and smashing the ball into an unguarded net.

Adding even more ridiculousness was a first-half rain delay. As the torrents poured down, the German women’s team invaded the pitch to briefly and beerily celebrate their earlier final victory over Netherlands.

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