Men’s Senior International – Valencia
Ireland 5 (Ian Sloan 2, Michael Watt, Timmy Cockram, Chris Cargo) Belgium 4 (Tom Boon 2, Thomas Briels, Renaud Pangrazio)
Ian Sloan’s happy knack of prophesising goals came true for a second successive game as the confident Cookstown teenager netted twice, something he predicted on twitter prior to Ireland’s win in Valencia this afternoon.
It helped Ireland pick up their first win of 2012, finally converting a tight game into victory after draws against illustrious opponents like Great Britain and Spain.
World number 11s Belgium, having already qualified for the Olympics, had been speaking to their domestic press has been speaking about breaking into the world’s top six but were rocked early on when Sloan caught them cold in the first minute.
Thomas Briels levelled in the 19th minute, rebounding off David Harte’s pads. The lead was restored in similar fashion when Michael Watt replied four minutes later. But it was level at half-time when Renaud Pangrazio mopped up for 2-2 and that was how it stayed until the break as the Belgians kept out a corner on the hooter.
Tom Boon handed the Belgians the lead from a corner three minutes after the interval but Ian Sloan made it equal for the third time as Ireland scored three in succession to break the game.
Chris Cargo put Ireland back in front in the 51st minute when he followed up on a reverse stick shot to tap in at the back post, a lovely pitch length move worked up the field by one-twos. Belgium struck the post soon after before Timmy Cockram nailed the winner from a corner with five minutes to go.
Boon whipped home a second corner with a minute left but could not stop Ireland grab the win despite Belgium taking off their goalkeeper Julien Shoolans for the latter stages.
Speaking afterwards, Alexandre De Paeuw said his side lost out in the 50-50s to Ireland: “We should have imposed ourselves today,” he said. “We have not played too badly but we did not win enough individual duels during the game. We dominated the exchanges but, as often, we have not scored enough.”
The sides meet again on Thursday.
Ireland: David Harte, John Jackson, Paul Gleghorne, Conor Harte, Stuart Loughrey, Eugene Magee, Ian Sloan, David Ames, Michael Watt, Timmy Cockram, Mitch Darling
Subs: Chris Cargo, Bruce McCandless, Phelie Maguire, Gareth Watkins, Shane O’Donoghue