In a strained and tetchy affair, Ireland let a two goal lead slip for the second time in two games but may well be more concerned with the less polished performance against Canada than they produced the previous evening.
In a controversial game, though, Ireland produced moments of sheer inspiration and scored three sublime goals. Their beauty was in marked contrast to Canada’s efforts, all of which were soft goals, coming from free-hits in the 25.
Canada began in a whirlwind, winning the first penalty corner inside 100 seconds when Ravi Kahlon went through one-on-one. A shot from the left caught Ronan Gormley on the body but appeared well wide but was deemed worthy of a stroke.
Wayne Fernandes, though, was unable to put his first touch of the ball home as David Harte guessed right and was correct.
Timmy Cockram started the game for the Irish and almost played in Phelie Maguire before providing a perfectly weighted reverse stick cross in the 14th minute for the on-rushing Eugene Magee to dive onto for the game’s opener.
Barely two minutes later and it was two. Mitch Darling fought through three tackles before pulling on the ball. His snap-shot was going well wide but Alan Sothern’s instinctive touch proved unstoppable for Michael Mahood.
But, from there, Ireland attempted to right the wrongs of the previous day and close up shop somewhat, moving into a half-court press. It invited the Canadians forward leading to a stagnant 15 minutes with little action, the ball stuck in Irish territory.
With half-time looming, a bizarre three-time taken free-hit – once after play had developed for 30 seconds – was crashed in by Rob Short. Harte stopped it but no one cleared the pads and Mark Pearson squeezed the ball home to give Canada a fighting chance.
During the break, something appeared to rile the Canadians leading to nasty scenes with goalkeeper Mahood and a couple of his teammates surround and berate the umpires, claiming a second penalty stroke. It set the tone for a scrappy second half, though its opening salvo was pure drama.
Short was awarded a goal only for his short corner effort deemed to have been a slap-hit rather than a deflection over the backboard after a lengthy consultation between an increasingly nervous pair of umpires.
Ireland marched up the pitch and restored the two-goal lead when Darling aerially guided John Jermyn’s lofted cross spectacularly into the goal’s stanchion – another to score his first Ireland goal.
But Canada needed only 20 seconds to pull one back. Short banged in a free-hit, Ireland could not stop the ball and Bindi Kullar’s scuffed effort dribbled in to compound a defensive howler.
As the game’s physicality increased, cards became inevitable. Sothern and Pearson ended spending the guts of 13 minutes on the sidelines for yellow card tackles within 20 seconds of each other and while Canada won a few corners – Ireland won none all game – the match petered out.
It sees Canada on four points, level with Pakistan while Ireland face Great Britain with both side on a point.