World League Round Three – 5th to 8th place playoff
Ireland 0 Spain 1 (Roger Padros)
Barring a European miracle, Ireland will miss out on the 2014 World Cup as a controversial Roger Padros goal saw Spain advance to the fifth place playoff of the World League round three in Rotterdam.
It leaves Ireland only able to play for seventh – their pre-tournament ranking – but the key moment will haunt the players as they played out a serious arm-wrestle with fluidity at a premium.
Padros netted 15 minutes from the end but not before the ball had ricocheted off David Alegre’s foot in the build-up. But Ireland did not get a video referral as their requests for the decision to be sent upstairs, umpire Fernando Gomez saying that they had taken too long to call for the review, one which would certainly have been successful in ruling out the effort.
It stood, however, leaving Andrew Meredith’s precious little time to rally but they still managed to carve out a couple of chances which they could not take, adding to the frustrations.
Shane O’Donoghue could not touch into an open net a sharp pass from Peter Caruth’s cross nor could Kyle Good from a Timmy Cockram pass. A last second corner also proved fruitless, leaving the players distraught with World Cup qualification via this route no longer an option.
Their one hope is via August’s European championships but they would have to outdo the Olympic gold and silver medallists, Germany and the Netherlands, to do it as well as top ten sides England, Belgium and Spain, and win the competition.
It leaves thoughts that this was the right tournament at the wrong time. The World League offered Ireland a best chance of breaking their hoodoo with six from this tournament still likely to be in the mix following the competition’s completion.
But the widespread absences took their toll with Geoff McCabe (work), Peter Brown (illness) and Eugene Magee’s (injury) unavailability across the midfield making for an unstable setup. Add in Mitch Darling (work) and Bruce McCandless (injury) and there could have been the difference between getting a result or two against higher tier opposition that was required.
Combined with the lack of preparation games by virtue of the lack of budget available, it left a golden opportunity untaken from a competition in which a couple of sides were in similarly precarious states.
Earlier in the tie, two sides played out a tight and tense affair with precious few chances. Alan Sothern’s touch was well saved by Quico Cortes’ shoulder in the third minute but Spain had more of the game before the interval.
They did not pose that menacing a threat, however, bar the incursions of Alex Casasayas who forged a range of different openings without landing a killer blow.
Kyle Good charged down David Alegre’s only corner shot, precipitating a counter-attack chance which was just snuffed out. David Harte denied Casasyas’ reverse to leave it scoreless at half-time and it continued that way after Ireland’s first corner in the 41st minute.
Conor Harte pushed it low for the corner but Bosco Perez-Pla kept his eye on it and guided it round the corner. Again, neither side was showing much rhythm with crash balls becoming ever increasing, one of which bounced and bobbled to leave Roc Oliva a great chance. On the dive, he ripped the ball into the side-netting.
Mikey Watt stung Cortes’ palm with a reverse-stick effort and a second Irish corner was pushed wide before the fateful 54th minute goal.
Perez-Pla’s whipped ball found its way to Xavi Lleonart who turned on his backhand but his shot was blocked by Harte onto Alegre’s foot. It served to bounce the ball back into Padros’ path and smash it home.
Three golden Irish chances to send it to penalties followed but none were taken and an over elaborate corner routine with everyone up yielded no shot, leaving Ireland on the outside of a major once again.
Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, R Gormley, C Cargo, A Sothern, P Caruth, A McConnell, T Cockram, P Maguire, P Gleghorne, C Harte
Subs: S Loughrey, K Good, M Watt, J Bell, S O’Donoghue, J Bruton, D Fitzgerald
Spain: Q Cortes, S Enrique, B Perez-Pla, E Tubau, R Oliva, R Alegre, G Dabanch, A Mir, M Salles, M Terraza, D Alegre
Subs: M Delas, R Padros, O Peremiquel, X Lleonart, S Piera, A Casasayas, M Fernandez