Wales reign supreme in shoot-out to crush Irish World Cup hopes

Wales reign supreme in shoot-out to crush Irish World Cup hopes

Ireland 1 (M Robson), Wales 1 (J Naughalty) Wales win 2-1 in shootout.

The Irish men’s hockey team will not be travelling to the 2023 World Cup in India. Facing hosts Wales in Cardiff in a match that decided who would qualify, the teams finished 1-1 after normal time, a result which took them into a penalty shootout.

But where fortune favoured the Irish women at the 2018 World Cup in London, the Irish men were right out of it, Wales advancing as Ireland converted just one of their five attempts with Wales netting twice to win the shootout 2-1.

It is a heavy blow to Ireland and leaves the women’s team in Italy needing a win in their final match on Sunday to be Ireland’s representative in next year’s women’s World Cup in the Netherlands and Spain.

In Cardiff it was a game Ireland could have won with opportunities close to the end in the fourth quarter, Neal Glassey’s effort perhaps the best but his shot drifting just inches wide of the post.

Overall it was a tight game with Ireland opening the scoring just after it began, when John McKee turned the ball over at the halfway to put Michael Robson in place to flick wide of Welsh goalkeeper Toby Reynolds-Cotterill for 1-0.

But the Welsh responded well to the early setback and although Ireland took their 1-0 lead into the second quarter, it wasn’t long before the hosts were level.

Joseph Naughalty wriggled and turned with the ball and worked himself enough space to pull the trigger on his backhand side, the ball firing past Jamie Carr in goal to hit the backboard for 1-1.

From then on the game remained in the balance, the sides going into the break level at 1-1. It took until the fourth quarter for Ireland to put on a squeeze with penalty corners on 56 minutes and 58 minutes but no return from a pumped up Reynolds-Cotterill.

Ireland attacked in waves in the closing phases but Wales robustly defended as the minutes counted down to finally throw the match into a shootout.

In the first round Conor Empey was denied by Reynold-Cotterill before Lewis Prosser was kept out by Jamie Carr for 0-0. Daragh Walsh was then stopped with captain Rupert Shipperley putting Wales 1-0 ahead.

In round three McKee flicked wide with Carr saving from Naughalty leaving Wales still ahead with two rounds remaining. In the fourth round captain Sean Murray finally got Ireland on the board but with Jack Pritchard also scoring for Wales the home side remained ahead at 2-1.

Both sides failed to score in their final run leaving the Welsh team in front and their place in India in 2023 secure.

“We started well, got ahead before having a disappointing second quarter,” said Irish coach Mark Tumilty .  

“We played well in the second half, created plenty of chances but unfortunately we weren’t able to take one of them and then we didn’t deliver in the shoot-out. It’s as straight-forward as that. 

“The momentum was going in

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