Senior Men’s International Challenge Match: Ireland 2 (David Ames, Eugene Magee) Argentina 3 (Lucas Vila 3)
A malfunctioning green machine almost salvaged a late result but it would scarcely paper over the cracks of an error-laden performance against an Argentina side who looked keen for retribution following an INSEP pasting last week.
Lucas Vila’s sublimely quick hands had the Belfield visitors 3-0 up in the 41st minute and it could have been more before Ireland struck two corner goals in the last nine minutes to tidy up an ugly scoreline.
Alan Sothern returned to the side for the first time since the Canada series in the spring and he was one of four players hoping to prove their worth for the two final spots in the European championships squad – Chris Cargo, Bruce McCandless and Joe Brennan the others.
The amount of errors committed from the side as a whole will be a concern for coach Paul Revington but scarcely a terminal issue, especially in light of the side training earlier in the day for a couple of hours.
From the first such mistake, Agustin Mazzilli stole possession on the Irish 25, rolled square for Lucas Cammareri. David Harte dived at his feet on the flick spot to deny any shot and the goalkeeper was sharp – though it looked nonchalant – to knock away a rising crackerjack from the same forward.
Ireland showed some fleeting glimpses of life but Argentina were good value for 1-0 in the 22nd minute. David Harte looked to have Vila’s reverse under control, getting a decent glove to the shot but it found its way into the roof.
Ian Sloan – who impressed in centre-midfield in the second half – cracked a post soon after, quickly turning a loose
defensive overhead into a stinging forehand. The crowd also thought an equaliser had come when a Bruce McCandless cross was mangled by a combination of defender and keeper to squirm over the line. Peter Caruth followed up but his reaction told the story that he arrived a couple of inches late.
Vila doubled the half-time lead 40 seconds before the break, showing sharp reactions as Paredes stormed forward down the right and while his shot ballooned up off Harte’s boot, Vila followed up with a chest-high bunt with minimal reaction time.
The wait for 3-0, though was not long in coming as Vila mopped up whilst on the ground a loose ball from close range after quick left-wing incision.
Brennan was next to deny Cammareri – a frustrated figure despite the win – as the forward raced clear, lifted the ball over David Harte only for the Glenanne man to hare back and deny the open goal.
In the 47th minute, Eugene Magee fired in a cracking effort but it did not stand, Geoff Conn calling an earlier nudge. The lifeline came nine minutes from time from Ireland’s second corner – none were conceded – Magee seemingly venting his frustration with a smashed rebound after Argentina had their numbers reduced, Tomas Argento Innocente breaking the line.
David Ames, then, got a sweet touch to John Jermyn’s drag four minutes from the end for a lively finish but Argentina held on. The sides meet again on Sunday at 3pm in Belfield.
Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, R Gormley, C Cargo, J Jermyn, E Magee, P Caruth, M Darling, D Ames, P Gleghorne, C Harte
Subs: J Brennan, A McConnell, I Sloan, B McCandless, A Sothern
Argentina: J Espinosa, I Bergner, M Vila, L Rey, M Paredes, L Cammareri, F Zylberberg, J Lopez, T Innocente, M Brunet, L Rossi
Subs: J-M Pacheco, P Ibarra, L Vila, S Montelli, A Mazzilli
Sunday’s fixture (both at Belfield): Ireland’s women vs Spain, 12pm; Ireland vs Argentina, 3pm