Men’s Senior International Test Match
Ireland 1 (Shane O’Donoghue) France 1 (Jean-Laurent Kieffer)
A youthful Irish side earned a creditable 1-1 draw with France at Grange Road as Shane O’Donoghue’s first half goal was cancelled out late on by France’s Jean-Laurent Kieffer in the first tie of their three game series this week.
Just three of Ireland’s World League 2 panel were employed as coach Craig Fulton used a much changed selection to the one that played in South Africa in last week.
Indeed, he handed out four debuts with Lee Cole – joining his elder brother Stephen in the starting line-up – Owen Magee and Luke Chadwick appearing in the first half and teenage goalkeeper Jamie Carr came on in the second period.
In truth, it was a tie low on chances and excitement while most of the crowd – and the officials – were experiencing the new long corner rules for the first time.
Ireland saw their first penalty corner charged down in the opening quarter before France’s Olivier Sanchez clattered an effort into the side-netting from the pick of the openings.
O’Donoghue duly broke the deadlock in the 27th minute after Davy Carson’s ingenuity won the set piece, his drag-flick having too much power for Edgar Reynaud. For the most part, O’Donoghue provided Ireland’s main quality around the pitch at the base of midfield as did his counter-part Charles Masson – who plays in Belgium with the WatDucks.
The second half followed a similarly close-knit pattern with defences on top for the most part. France began to push on in the closing quarter, though, and after Sanchez fluffed a simple chance, Kieffer made sure of the draw with a sharp finish, picking up a rebound off the post and volleying home in the 55th minute.
Ireland play France twice more this week, meeting again on Thursday and Friday evening at Grange Road at 7pm.
Afterwards, coach Fulton said he was happy with how his young side performed.
“I’m really pleased. We have been lining up this game for our development group for the last four months. It was positive; there was some good flowing play and we will bring some of these guys through to Thursday, mixed with a lot of the World League 2 panel” he said.
Ireland: S West, J Bell, L Cole, M Bell, S Cole, M Robson, K Good, J Bruton, P Gleghorne, D Carson, S O’Donoghue
Subs: S Brownlow, M Elliott, J Lorimer, L Chadwick, O Magee, P Brown, L Carr
France: E Reynaud, C Peters-Deutz, J-L Kieffer, T Genestet, H Genestet, O Sanchez, C Masson, J-B Forgues, V Charlet, G Samson, A Coisne
Subs: F Goyet, S Martin-Brisac, G Baumgarten, G Deront, F Scheefer, C Saunier
Umpires: R Donaldson, W McCully.