Ireland get perfect start in hockey qualifiers

Ireland 6 Russia 1

Ireland 6 Russia 1

Ireland's bid to qualify for the Olympics is off to the start they wanted, after the hosts survived an edgy first half to finish 6-1 winners over Russia at the FIH Road to London at a packed UCD this afternoon.

Paul Revington's charges, who are seeded third of the six sides competing for the sole Olympic qualification berth on offer, needed both three points and a boost to their goal difference after seeing

second seeds Malaysia rout Chile 5-1.

However, it was top seeds Korea who ended the day top of the pile on goal difference, seeing off Ukraine - who Ireland play tomorrow (3pm) 8-2.

John Jermyn, recently returned from a four-month absence with a fractured foot, dragged home Ireland's first penalty corner on 14 minutes to put the hosts in front after an indifferent start.

That was his 72nd international goal, leaving him just six shy of Stephen Butler's all-time record, and he nearly ate further into the deficit but had a second drag-flick chalked off for an infringement minutes later.

The Cork Church of Ireland man then turned provider for Ireland's second, ghosting to the endline to square for Timmy Cockram to slam into an empty net.

Despite that advantage, the hosts were turning over too much possession and Russia made them pay when Ravshan Zakirov rebounded well for 2-1.

It stayed that way until the break but Ireland upped the ante in the second half, with captain Ronan Gormley giving a man of the match performance as their sharpness and patience started to pay dividends.

Mitch Darling - Ireland's stand-out forward - bundled home after a goalmouth scramble before Peter Caruth swept in after Eugene Magee's trickery had created space in the circle.

A short corner switch allowed Conor Harte to roof a 55th-minute drag-flick for 5-1 before Mikey Watt completed the rout when his tame reverse was was helped to the backboard by Russian netminder Roman Rogov.

IRELAND: David Harte (GK); Ronan Gormley (capt), Conor Harte, John Jackson, Paul Gleghorne; Geoff McCabe, Andy McConnell, David Ames; Eugene Magee, Mikey Watt, Mitch Darling.

Rolling subs: John Jermyn, Chris Cargo, Peter Caruth, Timmy Cockram, Stuart Loughrey.

FIH Road to London 2012, Day 1

Malaysia 5 (Razie 2, Amin, Hafifi, Faizal) Chile 1 (J Richter)

Ireland 6 (Jermyn, Cockram, Darling, Caruth, C Harte, Watt) Russia 1 (Zakirov)

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